Put the napkin in your lap and pull up to the table with Eau Claire's Hungry Italian as he provides the area's only true Restaurant Review. Don't have another family night ruined by poor service. Find the perfect spot to take that special online someone on the third date that has romance commingled with value.
EATING ESTABLISHMENT The Classic Garage
DINING DATE Thursday March 5th
MEAL TIME Lunch
ATTENDEES IN PARTY 1 adult
TOTAL BILL -$13
OREDERED Bacon Cheeseburger, Cole Slaw, Soda
Full disclosure, for most of the last three years whenever the Hungry Italian has driven by The Classic Garage on 3rd Street, his initial reaction is always that the place never looks open.
Finally, the Hungry Italian made a point of visiting this locale with optimism and left with a neutral feeling. The Classic Garage has a great deal of positives and the operators should be very much commended for the effort they exhibited in turning a former auto repair/gas station into a functioning restaurant. One can tell they spent money and have continued to do so. The exterior perhaps could use more to distinguish it as a restaurant (the only hint it’s a restaurant is if one sees the tables through the large window garage doors) but the interior itself gives minimal indication to its former use. With one notable exception being a car in the middle of the dining room.
Upon entry, one comes upon a front counter that gives the feeling it’s a sit down restaurant but in actuality diners continue around the corner to the actual ordering station. Your standard fast food set-up with a bright TV monitor displaying the menu. Your classic “diner” fare is here with sandwiches, burgers, appetizers and the like. Beverages include the standard soft drinks but beer is also available.
The kitchen is tucked to the right of the ordering station and despite a nearly empty dining room they were furiously working on something back there.
After placing the order and filling up a soft drink cup at the foundation, you have the choice between booth or table seating. The open floor plan is broken only by a “step-up” halfway into it. On top of that is the car and a few more seats.
The attempt here is the 50s diner approach, so plastic lined booths and plenty of red and white color splashes. Upbeat music from the 50s and early 60s plays on a continuous loop and the large garage doors that are all windows allow copious natural light in. The walls are adorned, but not flooded, with generic car memorabilia and photos.
The 50s Diner approach is technically very “80s”. Nostalgia travels in 30 years spans as those in their 30s and 40s fondly recall their emerging years. So in the 1980s, the 1950s diner fad was popular amongst restaurant operators much the same way 80s pop culture made a return over the last decade and how the 90s fads are taking over again.
Long story short, if one grew up in the 1980s this is as much of a time warp as anyone even older.
Only two other customers were here during what should be a lunch run. However, despite being on a busy road the place is tucked away from downtown not close enough to really take advantage of that daytime population. So one would think dinner is where they make their money.
After a wait of 13 minutes for a burger and cole slaw, the Hungry Italian dove in. The meal is served in plastic baskets which is a personal pet peeve unless eating at one of the local bars and the burger is half the price of this one. Regardless, the ½ pound patty with a corn meal bun looked appetizing but there was an odd smell. Not sure whether it was the cheese, the bacon or the patty but it smelled weird.
The taste? It had a metallic taste to it. Initially the Hungry Italian thought it was because the cook had used too much lighter fluid. That may still be the case but as the bites continued the thought turned to either the bacon or more likely the cheese which by the time it totally congealed the smell disappeared and the taste improved.
The patty was “finishable”. It wasn’t as though it was a painful experience and thanks to a dollop of ketchup which masked the flavor a bit it was still filling. Clearly this isn’t one of the area’s best burgers.
So the burger was a disappointment. However, the cole slaw was outstanding! Perhaps the best in the area. It was creamy but not too thick, while remaining tangy. Cool and crisp with each bite. Granted, few go to a place based on the cole slaw but with this being a side dish option for most sandwiches and burgers the Hungry Italian recommends it wholeheartedly.
Ultimately, the Hungry Italian doesn’t want to knock this place. The burger the Hungry Italian had on this day wasn’t good but there are other options. The operators have demonstrated a passion by the work they’ve put into the place and this is a locale that has remained in business for a couple of years with a loyal following that had asked the Hungry Italian to visit so they must be doing something right.
Give this place a try but maybe stay clear of the burgers.
Unless in the 3rd Street Area, likely no. This isn't a terrible place just not good enough for the Hungry Italian to go out of the way.
PREVIOUS HUNGRY ITALIAN RESTAURANT REVIEWS
Milwaukee Burger Co
The Classic Garage