INTRODUCTION: Dan & Jami’s Railway Grill & Bar in Council Bluffs seemed like a good place to meet half way between the where we (two couples) live, so we choose it for our next visit. When they say Railway, they literally mean railway, as we had to wait for a train at the crossing before we could pull into the parking lot. And the sounds of the train whistle going by occasionally remind us we are literally on the side of the tracks.
This is a friendly hometown bar with a cast of regulars enjoying their end of the workday at the bar and a crowded table. We really were impressed with the variety of meals offered. They have a daily special and a typical list of beers and mixed drinks. No beers are on tap. Patty tried Michelob Ultra Pure Gold for 83 calories and found it tasty. Rick stuck with a familiar Bud Light. Sarah choose a gin and tonic and this may have been her favorite part of the evening (other than chatting with dear friends). Jim is our trusty diet Pepsi guy. The woman manning the bar (Jami??) was quick, efficient and pleasant. The bathrooms were clean. Off to a good start Kind of place we all like.
THE FOOD: The Monday night special was a Reuben and a side for $7.99. They have a nightly special with a slight savings on the sandwich and side or the entrée. They also have an impressive variety of specialty sandwiches (Bacon Lovers BLT, Malibu chicken Sandwich, Pork tenderloin, Pork tenderloin basket, Patty melt made with a full pound burger of the Junior Patty Melt with only a ½ pound burger). Their menu also lists entrees, soups & salads as well as ‘favorite sandwiches’ such as French Dip and Philly Cheesesteak. They have baskets and a nice variety of side dishes. Their menu keeps the “railway” theme going with ‘side car dishes’ and several railway decor.
THE SERVICE: The waitress quickly took our orders and was able to answer all our questions. She checked back frequently enough to be helpful and refilled beverages as we needed them.
The waitress brought two of the four meals out and a good 5-10 minutes elapsed before the additional two meals came out. We can only deduct that the cook of the night can’t multi-task and isn’t used to serving more than 1-2 persons at a time.
The food itself received mixed reviews. One of the sides was incorrect so the waitress brought an appetizer portion of onion rings instead of the side order size. The onion rings were piping hot but not homemade. The Reuben sandwich was very tasty and well prepared. The Chicken Malibu was good but slightly greasy. The pork fritter was humungous and the meat was tender but lacked flavor. Some salt and pepper prior to deep-fat frying would have helped. The sides of French fries were lukewarm, not hot. They probably had been held under a heat lamp.
SUMMARY: In all, the Railway Grill and Bar is a fine place to meet and chat and if you’ve had a few beers, a very filling place to eat. If you are more interested in the food than the alcohol, this probably shouldn’t be your choice for a meal. Very adequate, but they focus more on hometown hospitality than quality dining. We really think they have potential, and perhaps we had a new cook in the kitchen that hasn’t learned how to put an entire order together and have it delivered while it is hot. And perhaps another night the food might come out all together and piping hot. Then our review would be much better. Monday night is probably a good night to train a new cook.