Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill

meter-bleh-okMy experience at Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill (henceforth abbreviated as DSFB&G) was ultimately not a very good one. It started out pleasantly and with much promise, but over the course of the meal it became clear that this place unfortunately sucks. It’s too bad too, because the location is prime and the wait people (wait persons?) are great, but I just couldn’t get past the terrible food.

“ Holy flavorless meatsticks, Batman! ”

On a typically lovely Saturday morning in July, my wife Shawn and I took our dogs to well-to-do Danville for a day of strolling about and shopping for random things. After a couple hours’ worth of browsing through old chandeliers and decorative concrete whatnots, we decided it was time for an early lunch. There are a lot of really great places to eat in Danville, so it was with much excitement that we took inventory of our food options along Danville’s main drag. We read through some good looking menus and peeked in a bunch of windows, but ultimately we decided on DSFB&G.

Downtown Danville is as cute as a button.

Downtown Danville is as cute as a button.

DSFB&G has a lovely shaded patio with cozy tables – mostly all filled with happy looking people – and so we figured it had to be pretty good. We were welcomed inside the patio, dogs and all, and were seated immediately. Our waitress quickly brought over a couple menus and a bowl of water for our dogs. Major bonus points there. The menu, as it turns out, was a bit on the short side and included only breakfast items. Strange for 11:30am, but that’s fine. We’ll go with breakfast. We asked our waitress about a couple items on the menu and as it turns out she hadn’t tried either of them, but she did make sure to mention the name of another restaurant where said menu items were really good. Curious. I shrugged it off as nothing and ordered the chicken and waffle with an iced tea, while Shawn opted for a banana buttermilk pancake short stack, side of chicken apple sausage, and a Diet Coke.

This is just like any other chicken and waffle dish you've had, except that it isn't good.

This is just like any other chicken and waffle dish you’ve ever had, except that it isn’t good.

Our food arrived shortly afterwards and it was very… ordinary. It didn’t look unappetizing per se, just ho hum. Upon closer inspection it turned out that the underside of my chicken was very dark, almost burned, and the waffle was dry and sad. At least the eggs were prepared correctly. Shawn’s banana buttermilk pancakes were literally only that – two ordinary buttermilk pancakes with sliced bananas on top. The pancakes, waffle, and chicken were all sub-average and tasted identical to one another. To add insult to injury, we then realized there was no butter anywhere to be found. What the heck, no butter?? If I was governor, I’d make that a class 2 misdemeanor.

Bananas on top of pancakes do not banana pancakes make.

Bananas on top of pancakes do not banana pancakes make.

Just as I was trying to figure out how to choke down my waffle without butter, Shawn said, “This is the worst chicken apple sausage I have ever had.” Being morbidly curious, I tried a piece. Holy flavorless meatsticks, Batman! She wasn’t kidding. Those sausages were the most offensively bland food I have accidentally touched with my tongue in the last 10 years, and I promise you that I’m not exaggerating. They seemed to be nothing more than week-old boiled rooster meat sprayed with apple-scented air freshener. Oh, and they were cold in the middle too. Quadruple yuck.

And what is one supposed to do with disgusting food when they don’t want to make a scene? That’s where the dogs come in. Our fluffy little mutts were thrilled to help and eagerly ate pieces of sausage, which they seemed to enjoy just fine. They also like bully sticks, though, so I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

If there is a Hell, this is what they serve for breakfast.

If there is a Hell, this is what they serve for breakfast.

When we had finished, our waitress brought our bill, commenting how she hadn’t tried the chicken and waffle but there’s this really good waffle joint down the street that is supposed to be killer. Now she tells us. We paid, tipping decently, and left DSFB&G forever with no intention of ever returning. As we walked away, Shawn produced another quotable: “The best part of that meal was the Diet Coke.” Ain’t that the truth.

And just when we thought our disappointing meal experience was wrapped up for the day, one of our dogs barfed up the chicken apple sausage on the drive home. Sigh. It’s a fitting end I suppose. DSFB&G has good ambience and friendly employees, but whoever is running the kitchen has pretty much ruined everything. I’m sad to say that I rate this place a dismal 1 out of 12 bottles of floor mat shampoo, Randomly Edible’s lowest score ever. If you’re considering visiting this restaurant, don’t.

Danville Station Firehouse Bar & Grill
340-348 Hartz Avenue
Danville, CA 94526
(925) 838-8800
www.firehousebarandgrille.com
Danville Station Firehouse Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon


Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart toy.


Beer can chicken

There is something deliciously hilarious about this recipe that appeals to all men. Beer combined with bored hillbillies is guaranteed to result in either disaster or hilarity. In this particular case, depending on whether or not you are the proctologically doomed chicken in question, it’s a little bit of both.

Skip to the short version

” I have no intention of finding out what Schlitz logo ink tastes like “

In a stroke of blind luck (or pure genius), it turns out that this is one of the easiest ways you can imagine to cook up a juicy, tender, and flavorful bird. The basic idea is that you’re steaming the chicken from the inside while roasting it on the outside, and there a number of different ways to accomplish this. In addition to using beer as the “steaming medium”, you can also use wine, cola, broth, lemonade… the list is endless. I’ll detail my own favorite recipe below, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors.

A bottle of booze and a couple things from the yard are all you really need.

A bottle of booze and a couple things from the yard are all you really need.

Truth be told, I have never tried using an actual can of beer; there are all sorts of things in and on aluminum cans that were never intended to be exposed to high temperatures. I have no intention of finding out what Schlitz logo ink tastes like, so instead I use a specially made porcelain steamer thingy called a Sittin’ Chicken. There are a number of different options that also accomplish the same thing, most notably the Poultry Pal. Choose whatever gizmo you like best and start getting your ingredients together.


Ingredients

  • a chicken!
  • white wine
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a drip pan or disposable aluminum tray
  • a wooden skewer
  • a meat thermometer
  • a steamer to sit your chicken on (can of beer, Sittin’ Chicken, etc.)
  • someone to take incriminating pictures of you sticking things in a chicken’s butt


Directions

You can use either a barbecue or an oven to prepare this recipe. A regular old charcoal barbecue or grill is preferable, but anything capable of maintaining medium heat for a few hours will do. This recipe does best when the heat is concentrated below the chicken, so if your oven will do that sort of thing (sometimes called a “baking” setting), set it up that way. If you’re using a smoker or barbecue, you want direct heat right on the bottom of the chicken. Not tons of heat, but it should be direct as opposed to indirect. What we want to do is get the liquid in the steamer (or can) as hot as possible, preferably boiling. If you just roast or broil the chicken, the steamer will be the last thing to heat up and will only reach about 165 degrees, doing a poor job of providing flavor and steam. So, set up your oven or grill for direct, bottom-only heat and start it warming up. Aim for about 275-300 degrees F.

Cut up the lemon and the onion into rough chunks and put them in the steamer, filling it loosely about halfway. Place the rosemary sprigs in the center of the steamer, standing them up like a bouquet. Pour in the white wine, filling it almost all the way to the top. Place the whole thing in the center of your drip pan.

Please have a seat and enjoy the sauna.

Please have a seat and enjoy the sauna.

Rinse the chicken with water, inside and out. Remove the giblets and any other nasty bits you find inside and throw them away. Or, if you have carnivorous pets, throw the giblets in the drip pan instead and they will become delicious and disgusting treats for later. Sprinkle a healthy amount of your poultry seasoning (I sometimes just use thyme and oregano) inside the chicken cavity. Carefully sit the chicken on top of the steamer, making sure all the rosemary sprigs end up inside the bird. Rub the skin thoroughly with olive oil and sprinkle or rub more of your seasoning on the outside. Using the skewer, “sew” the neck of the chicken shut so that none of the steam can escape. Put your new best bird friend in your oven or barbecue and begin rubbing your hands with glee.

The dinner guest has arrived.

The dinner guest has arrived.

Start checking the internal temperature of the chicken after about an hour. You will want to probe multiple locations with the meat thermometer, namely the legs, back, breast, neck, and cavity. Poultry is considered done at 165 degrees F, so make absolutely sure there aren’t any spots on the bird below that temperature. I tend to go a bit above that when making this recipe, mostly because you don’t need to worry as much about the meat drying out thanks to the steamer. I prefer my chicken (especially the dark meat) falling-off-the-bone tender as opposed to barely done, but that’s just me. Once the chicken is done how you like it, remove it from wherever it’s been cooking and try not to drool on it. Depending on the size of the bird, your particular grill or oven, and the type and degree of heat, it will take from 1 to 3 hours to cook completely. It’s done when it’s done; trying to force a specific timeline on it will only lead to tears.

Remove the chicken from the steamer and serve sliced, quartered, pulled, or just get in there with your bare hands and devour it like a wild animal.


Now that's what I'm talking about.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.



tl;dr

Beer can chicken

Ingredients

  • a chicken!
  • white wine
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 4 or 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • olive oil
  • poultry seasoning


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a drip pan or disposable aluminum tray
  • a wooden skewer
  • a meat thermometer
  • a steamer to sit your chicken on (can of beer, Sittin’ Chicken, etc.)


Directions

Set up barbecue for direct heat, 275-300 degrees F. Cut lemon and onion into rough chunks and place in steamer along with rosemary sprigs. Fill steamer with white wine and place in center of drip pan. Rinse chicken with water, remove giblets, and place upright over steamer. Rub skin with olive oil and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Use wooden skewer to sew neck hole shut. Roast chicken for 1-3 hours, until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F. Check multiple points around chicken, including thigh joints. Remove from heat and serve immediately.




See also


Butter & Zeus

meter-good-greatNo really, that’s what it’s called. Butter & Zeus. As abstract and meaningless as that name might be, there’s something deliciously alluring about it. It makes you perk your ears up and say, “Eh? Butter and what?” It’s the kind of thing that sticks in your head, and the sheer absurdity means you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Just my kind of subtle genius.

” The barbacoa has a respectable oomph to it without completely destroying your nasal cavity “

The story begins where it so often does, with my wife Shawn and I discussing meal plans. She had been forced at gunpoint to head into the office for a day of work on Black Friday. I stayed at home, puttering around the house and doing my best to make the place look as though I had cleaned it. “Where do you want to meet for lunch?” she asked me over the phone. “What’s around here that we haven’t been to before?”

I didn’t know. I replied with a combination mumble-shrug-hrrmph that was intended to convey, “I’m not sure, darling, let me look up some restaurants on Google.”

“Oh, here’s one” she said, beating me to the punch. “Your head’s going to explode. It’s a waffle sandw..” I hung up on her and sprinted to the car. Waffles THAT ARE ALSO SANDWICHES?? My brain spun with the idea of this new devilry. As I drove, my phone buzzed with a text message: “Thought so. It’s called Butter & Zeus, on Tasman.”

Before you ask, no, I didn’t read the text while I was driving. I’m stupid in other ways besides that.

Gotta love a place with “butter” in the name.

As we walked up to the front of the restaurant, I was hit with major déjà vu. I’d been here before… and yet I hadn’t. Ah, now I remember. This used to be the location of Castle Greek Cafe, a place I’d been to a couple times and was never all that impressed with. The decor was different now, of course, with the most notable change being a huge, hand-written menu board just inside the door.

My comfort food senses are tingling.

My comfort food senses are tingling.

Just look at all of those beautiful, unhealthy choices. After eating here, I’d really have to think extra hard about getting on the exercise bike before not doing it. The aroma of toasting waffles played through the air, causing my salivary glands to do whatever they damn well pleased. It was actually difficult to focus on choosing something from the menu with this going on, but we managed it. We eventually decided to split some barbacoa pork fries and a cheeseburger waffle. We paid the very reasonable bill at the cash register, filled our soda cups, and took a seat.

Of course they're waffle fries. What else would they be?

Of course they’re waffle fries. What else would they be?

Within just a few minutes, our pork fries arrived at the table. Jiminy Christmas, what a masterpiece. I don’t know who first came up with the idea of this sort of thing, but Butter & Zeus executed the concept flawlessly. The cola pulled pork (yes, cola) was absolutely to die for; nice lean strands of hand pulled pork were piled generously on top of impossibly fresh, golden fries. The barbacoa sauce coating the pork was quite spicy, but the cilantro lime dressing and sour cream helped to cut the burn a little bit. If you don’t like spicy stuff, stay as far away from this dish as you possibly can. If you’re in the mood to bring the heat, however, the barbacoa has a respectable oomph to it without completely destroying your nasal cavity.

The fries towards the bottom of the basket were pretty mushy, but the good news is that it’s because they were soaked with delicious saucy goodness. We just grabbed our plastic forks and soldiered on. Such is the way with dishes like these; if you don’t want your food to get soggy, eat faster. Just as we were savoring the last bits of our pork fries, the cheeseburger waffle arrived.

Waffles and burgers co-mingling? Scandalous.

Waffles and burgers co-mingling? Scandalous.

And there it was, a cheeseburger made with a waffle. It looked exactly as I had expected: An all-American lunch perched atop an all-American breakfast. At first, I was only intrigued by the novelty of it all. I almost didn’t care what it tasted like, but as I bit into my wafflewich (I’m totally trademarking that term), I was amazed at how well everything went together. Honestly, the patty and the cheese were nothing special – you could even call them average. Put them between a couple layers of hot, crispy waffle, however, and you’ve created magic. Contrary to what your brain might try to tell you, the waffle wasn’t sweet. Yes, maple syrup is an optional topping at Butter & Zeus, but the waffle itself is just another kind of bread. A very tasty, very wonderful kind of bread. The little pockets are masterful at holding all the toppings and condiments, while the waffle itself does a good job of keeping everything together without being too filling on its own. Quite simply, waffle sandwiches are brilliant.

As we finished up our lunch, I took note of what the other patrons around us were eating. One table in particular was covered with nothing but orders of classic (and first on the menu) chicken and waffles, and it all looked very good indeed. There is no question that I will be eating here again, and soon. As we stood up to leave, the cashier asked us how the food was and if we enjoyed our lunch. It was a genuine question, not just a passing “How was everything?” that usually means “I hate my job, so please get out.” I chatted with the cashier for a while, giving my feedback and promising to come back, and he was happy to hear it. The folks at Butter & Zeus seem truly interested in how they are doing, and the dedication shows in their food.

Shawn and I had a great experience here, enough to land this place on our short list of restaurants to come back to regularly. Although I wouldn’t call this a high-class, fancy, or even hugely remarkable eatery, I will certainly sing its praises for solid execution, good prices, and a great concept. I rate Butter & Zeus 3.5 out of 4 waffle wedges, which should be more than enough to ensure that it shows up on your lunch radar. If you’re tired of trying to uphold a higher sense of culinary sophistication and just want simple, good food, this is the place for you.

Butter & Zeus
2213 Tasman Drive
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 727-1800
Facebook: Butter & Zeus Waffle Sandwiches
Butter & Zeus on Urbanspoon

I'm going to order the heck out of some chicken and waffles next time.

I’m going to order the heck out of some chicken and waffles next time.