In the old days, back before the great gastropub invasion of 2012, you would've called Reservoir a bar with above-average food. Big and bustling, the place definitely feels like a bar, with two bartender areas, flat-screen TVs everywhere and a lively soundtrack provided by a state-of-the-art Internet jukebox. Owners Emil Bragdon and Clayton Grunewald come from a bar background, the clientele is young and chipper, and so is the staff; you can tell this must be a fun place to work.
But as gastropubs snowball into a major dining movement around Dallas-Fort Worth, the timing is right for Reservoir, whose mildly trendy menu by chef Chad Burnett lets it tiptoe into the gastropub slot. The menu has many of your hipster hallmarks: thin-crust pizza, sliders, chicken and waffles, sweet potato fries. Happily, they're all pretty good.
Pizza's become a tough category lately, but Reservoir's Texas whiskey BBQ ($11) pizza proved itself a worthy contender. The crust was none-too-shabby: thin in the center with a puffy rim whose browned spots contributed a welcome toasty flavor.
Toppings included pulled pork, red onion and two cheeses, cheddar and blue - too much cheese, methinks, but we like our cheese light. What made this pizza distinctive was the use of sweet barbecue sauce in place of regular old tomato sauce, a substitution we liked a lot.
The whimsically titled "Ma Can We Get Some Meatloaf" sandwich ($11) -- lifted from Wedding Crashers -- was nothing more than sliders, four to an order, with thick rectangles of meatloaf on soft, sweet dinner rolls. The meat was crumbly and flavorful, topped with shreds of fried onion and a jack cheese with a spritz of Shiner Bock.
With any sandwich -- which also includes a burger, hot dog, tuna sliders and chicken club on a croissant -- you can choose from garlic-Parmesan fries, sweet potato fries, a house salad or a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Ha. We got the garlic-Parmesan fries, whose size and golden color looked a lot like what you get at McDonald's, and tasted like them, too; they weren't quite hot, and the flavor was a little bland.
Sweet potato fries ($3 for a side) were cut to the same thinness and ratio of crispness to soft center. They came with a ramekin of pineapple-serrano sauce, which was all the good parts of fresh and fruity and hot, but not a good dip for the flimsy fries; its texture was too chunky.
One Reservoir signature is fried chicken in a Cap'n Crunch crust. It's an irresistible guilty pleasure that contrasts the greasy salty chicken with the cereal's sweet, shaggy crunch. You can get it as an appetizer ($8) or in a chicken-and-waffle combo ($10). The waffle was a thick Belgian round, topped with a chicken breast split into two halves and a ladle of maple syrup. The syrup and the grease from the chicken dripped down onto the waffle, making it moist and luscious.
For dessert, the pecan cobbler ($7) sounded good, baked in the brick oven and served in a wee iron pot; but it was sticky and overwhelmingly sweet, even with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Better to get your dessert in a liquid form, especially if you like chocolate shakes: The Bushwacker ($8) was like a chocolate Frosty (they even called it a frosty on the menu), with a big alcohol wallop thanks to shots of Irish whiskey, rum and coffee liqueur. Oddly, it was served in a plastic foam cup; we couldn't see why.
Service was diligent, sometimes overly so, with almost too much eagerness for clearing away the dirty plates. The decor is well-appointed, with exposed brick, industrial light fixtures and visible air-conditioning ducts. A row of booths has built-in speakers, allowing you to tune in to your own TV and hear the score on your favorite game -- a reminder that, though the food may be good for a bar, it's still a bar at heart.