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Engine Company No. 3

Oct. 15, 2014
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Walker’s Point continues to be an incubator for restaurant innovation. The past few years have seen fine restaurants like Braise and c. 1880 set high standards while older rivals such as Crazy Water and La Merenda still shine. Now, La Merenda’s owner Peter Sandroni has opened a second restaurant not even two blocks away. The new establishment is named Engine Company No. 3 and happens to be a former fire station. It has been suitably renovated, complete with glass garage doors that will make it an airy place on warm days. The Engine Company only serves breakfast and a few lunch items and is open Tuesday through Sunday with a 2 p.m. closing time. The spacious bar is a fine place to slowly savor a morning. Experienced servers made this a place with no rough edges when it first opened—which is not all that common.

The menu follows La Merenda’s worldwide approach to food. Quice Lorraine, Salmon Madame and patacon (plantains) all are breakfast options ($8-$12). Flapjacks and French toast are more typical options. Look for items that include the smoked baby reds or order them as a side ($1.50). Pity the customer who requested ketchup for these ever-so-tasty potatoes with just a wisp of smoky flavor and a dusting of herbs. They need absolutely no embellishment. Do also try the house-cured bacon ($1.50) or the Irish bacon ($2.50). The first is tender pork belly, a bit sweet and not loaded with salt and preservatives. This is what bacon should taste like. The Irish is from a meatier pork loin.

Attention to detail also appears in the small bowl of market fruit ($3.50). The red raspberries are extraordinary, smaller and more flavorful than their grocery store cousins.

As noon approaches, try a Milanesa sandwich ($12). Milanesa is familiar in local Mexican restaurant menus as a chewy slice of beef, loaded with batter and fried in too much oil. This cut of Ney’s Big Sky beef is lean, tender and ever so lightly battered. Add some avocado, tomato, cumin-lime mayo and a dash of jalapeno jam and you have a sandwich that will remind you of the La Merenda menu.

One daily special deserves to be on the regular menu, the banh mi ($9). This Vietnamese sandwich typically consists of grilled pork on a baguette. The Engine Company takes more than a few liberties using ground pork tenderloin and mixing the herbs in with the meat. What makes this so good? The herbs are fresh from La Merenda’s garden and thin slices of daikon radish complete the Vietnamese flavors. Wait for this item to reappear next summer.

Salads are another option. The haricot vert ($6.50) includes house lardon with shallots, some garlic and a light vinaigrette. This salad arrives warm and topped with a fried egg! Not your everyday salad.

Judging by the growing number of customers, the Engine House is already a success, especially on weekends. For a more relaxed time try earlier in the week or on an off-hour when the Engine Company is at its most relaxing.


Engine Company No. 3

217 W. National Ave.




Handicapped access: yes


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