Great Basin Brewing Company5525 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89502
If you believe Great Basin Brewing Company, “Great beer will set you free.” Much to my wife’s chagrin, they’ve set me free many times. Now with a second location in Reno, I’m much closer to liberation and have one less reason to visit Sparks. However, while I was gracefully soaring around like a bird on a recent Tuesday, the servers bumbled around. The beers are as good as I remember, but boy, was it amateur night for food and service.
I visited with a bunch of family members, and Great Basin was packed. My brother, Eric, my wife, Kat, and I each enjoyed Jackpot Porters ($3 Tightwad Tuesday price) as we waited nearly 25 minutes before being seated. Porters have been my drink of choice lately, and Great Basin’s is a smooth and truly outstanding brew.
Great Basin has done a nice job designing the restaurant. It’s louder than all hell but is laid out much better than the Sparks location, with exceptional padding in the chairs that makes for one comfortable drinking, or rather, dining experience. Of course, the heart of Great Basin is the expanded brewery, which will now be pumping out bottled beers.
Our visit came on their eighth day of service. The brewers nailed it, but here are my recommendations for the servers: Napkins and silverware should arrive before the food; charge correct prices for menu items; don’t bring pizza plates too small for a cup of tea let alone a slice of pizza; and after clumsily dropping a pizza in the center of our table, why didn’t you wipe up the mess?
Overall, “A” for effort and pleasantness, but the execution was not good.
Apart from the addition of pizzas, Great Basin didn’t change the new restaurant’s menu. After a couple of potent drinks, you’ll likely find everything just fine, but it’s really not remarkable. Kat’s mom, Pam, chose the light order of Wild Horse Ale battered cod and french fries ($8.95). While the fries came out perfectly crispy, the fish was overly greasy. My parents and I each ordered pizzas. They split the 10-inch Tahoe Zephyr ($14): pepperoni, black forest ham, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms and olives, while I had the 10-inch Beer-B-Q chicken: chicken, cheese blend and cilantro. The pizza crust is semi-thin and was baked to a nice crunch. The toppings were portioned out well and flavorful, but where was the sauce? What little I could taste, I enjoyed, but my pizza was a touch dry for want of more barbecue sauce.
Eric ordered the Great Basin Gobbler ($8.50): thin slices of grilled turkey topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, Monterey jack cheese and a roasted garlic aioli on a French roll. That sandwich sounded amazing and looked even better with all that melted cheese. However, it was bland and the roll soggy. Kat ordered the honey jalapeño chicken salad ($8.95), a barley-crusted breast of grilled chicken atop mixed greens, tomatoes, onion and cucumber served with Great Basin’s honey jalapeño dressing. Though a touch sweet for lettuce alone, the dressing worked well with the chicken and even better as a dip for my pizza crust.
It’s a foregone conclusion that I will be going back to Great Basin Brewing Co. for the beer. Given that one great beer is never enough and those beers have some kick, I’ll probably need some food to keep my head on straight. I view the food as passably fine—something that will keep me legal on what’s now a much shorter drive home. I’m sure the servers will hit their stride, but even if they don’t, let’s all be thankful for Great Basin Brewing Company’s beer.