Natty Greene’s Brewing Company
505 W Jones St
Raleigh, North Carolina
Visited on January 20, 2014
Based on my previous experience with the Natty Greene’s in Greensboro, I wasn’t expecting very much from the downtown Raleigh location. And while it’s certainly not a terrible option for those in the area, it doesn’t stand out in any way either.
The best part of the whole shebang is the location. It’s in a beautifully restored brick building right next to the train tracks slightly southwest of downtown. There’s a couple of separate rooms – one more of a bar with games (including the rarely located full-length shuffle board) – and the other more of a dining room. There’s a lot of brick, not just on the walls, but in room dividers as well, and the woodwork throughout is a great touch.
In all, the restaurant itself is open, lively, but still a place you could take your family. It works to fill its function extremely well. And in what must be an old, reclaimed building, they’ve certainly got this part of the brewpub equation down pat.
The menu is everything I’ve come to expect from large-scale breweries that have opened multiple locations. They try to appeal to the masses by having pretty standard American fare options, and while it all seems pretty fresh and decently prepared, it does lack a little something-something in execution.
I typically head right for the sandwich section, and today was no exception. My wife and I split two – one a traditional ribeye Philly with sauteed veggies and provolone, the other a pressed pork sandwich smothered in barbecue sauce. That last bit was sort of weird. What’s the point of pressing a sandwich if you’re going to smother it in sauce, forcing someone to use a knife and fork to eat it anyway? It was still tasty, just sort of weird. Anyway, the Philly blew the other sandwich away. The side of black-eyed peas with bacon, however, did not. Blech.
The beers are also everything I’ve come to expect from large-scale breweries that have opened multiple locations; they try to pander to the Bud-drinking crowd. All of their year-round options and most of their seasonals are extremely mild and boring. Of that group, the pale is the most worth your dollar; they don’t even have a regular IPA.
The seasonals don’t fare much better. A smoky porter and brown ale were pretty flat in both profile and depth. A “stronger” pale ale was actually pretty okay, but still fell well short of my go-to American pale’s like Dale’s or Stone. The winterfest Munich dunkel was malty and smooth – actually a good option. And a double American witbier was exactly what you’d expect – sweet and malty and more like a Cobra than I’d care to drink on a regular basis.
There were two additional options that actually sounded promising – a double amber ale and an “experimental” IPA with rare Aztec hops and a definite citrus profile – according to the description. Unfortunately, they were out of both. My guess is that whenever they come out with anything that is even slightly bolder than their moderate norm, it gets lapped up like a dog drinking water after crossing the Mohave.
The service on my visit was exceptional – I will say that. I camped out for 2+ hours, tried all the beer, had lunch with my wife, and never went thristy for a minute. She was very much on top of my wants and I never had to ask for anything.
In any case, there aren’t a lot of breweries in Raleigh that serve food. And until there are, this remains a decent option.