Battle Born Social specializes in craft cocktails and small bites. I met with a couple of friends to share some fancy bar food and also enjoyed a tartly sweet “Nevada Tonic” ($9)—a smoked chalice full of local, barrel-aged gin, sage and tonic water over ice.
Our initial selections were tacos and sliders ($9 for three). The Thai beef tacos were stuffed with chopped, seasoned meat and a bit of peanut sauce, ginger vegetable slaw, queso fresco and mango salsa. The mix of sweet and spice was very good, though the single corn tortilla tore through on the bottom—just a reminder of why street tacos usually have doubled tortilla.
Next were two sets of sliders. The little shrimp po’ boys each had a large prawn—deep fried in a sweet and crunchy breading—with plenty of citrus slaw and a liberal dose of spicy aioli. They were really nothing like any po’ boy I’ve had in the past, which is a compliment. As good as they were, they were still overshadowed by a set of diminutive burgers.
Look, I’ve eaten plenty of beefy sliders. Good, bad, so-so, but rarely great. However, when I bite into a burger as good as these were, it’s like a fresh infatuation. It’s rare, beautiful and a little bit naughty. Had I known, I would have happily ordered a few servings of these and been finished. The bun was just basic, but the locally sourced, grass-fed beef was expertly seasoned and cooked to a juicy medium rare. With shredded cheddar melted on the patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle, garlic aioli and onion jam—yes, onion jam—it was un-freaking-believable.
Moving on to larger dishes, we ordered a crock of crispy Brussels sprouts ($7) with balsamic onion, vermouth, citrus and bacon. Black and green, they appeared a bit daunting but were the sort that could make a hardened hater like Brussels sprouts. Apparently, the secret lies in them being roasted, then fried with that decadent concoction—tender, crispy, delicious.
I was pretty jazzed to see crawfish mac and cheese on the menu, but it was not to be. Turns out the freshwater crustaceans are not in season. Mac and cheese ($13) with shrimp and Pete’s famous chorizo from Villa Basque did the trick. Arugula, cheddar curds, beer cheese sauce and freshly grated parmesan joined the sliced sausage and chopped shrimp atop of bed of gemelli pasta. It was spicy, creamy, al dente and fantastic.
What better to follow this cheesy goodness than a plate of social cheese fries ($11), covered in beer cheese sauce, balsamic reduction, Calabrian chile, queso fresco, green onion and deep-fried cheddar nuggets. The fries were crisp and golden, holding up well under the onslaught of toppings. The addition of crunchy, chewy cheese balls was an unexpected bonus, and the chopped hot pepper added just the right amount of heat.
At the tail end of an already tasty evening, a plate of chicken and waffles ($11) delivered on both presentation and wow factor. I’ve never been quite sold on the concept, but this rendition made me a believer. A large Belgian waffle was cut into triangles, topped with boneless fried chicken morsels, crumbled bacon, maple glaze and an over-medium fried egg. We popped the yolk to let it join the pool of maple goo, and, man, what a combination of savory, crunchy and sweet. It was the breakfast of champions—for dinner.