Promises to keep

Chef Auriane Ugalde shows off the chukar lettuce wraps at 775 Gastropub.

Chef Auriane Ugalde shows off the chukar lettuce wraps at 775 Gastropub.

Photo By audrey Love

775 Gastropub is open 11 a.m. to midnight.

775 Gastropub

5162 Meadowood Mall Circle
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 828-0775

The deep red walls and dark wooden tables were comforting after our marathon search for a place to eat that was still open. My friend Janet and I had a list of a few restaurants that recently opened, and we were excited to give one of them a try. Unfortunately, we struck out again and again. And again. The first three restaurants on our list no longer existed. Such is the way of the world, at least in Reno.

Admittedly, it’s a hard time in this city to venture out and start a new business, especially a restaurant—a place to which people flock when they have some extra cash to toss around. But 775 Gastropub would not be dissuaded. The restaurant in Meadowood Mall opened just two weeks ago and has a very good chance of remaining there for some time to come.

The place has terrific ambiance. It is classy and comfortable and succeeds in allowing us to forget we were actually in a mall. We seated ourselves at a high table near the window and were swiftly waited upon by a very friendly young man who, while perhaps somewhat new to the profession, executed his job with verve and tenacity. The pub offers a great selection of microbrews. Janet ordered the Young’s Chocolate brew ($6) and nursed it all night. It was a meal in itself. I’m not really a beer person, so I asked if they had any tasty ciders on hand. Our server suggested a Lindeman’s Framboise ($6), a raspberry drink, assuring me it was delicious. Upon its arrival I discovered that I did not share his view. It was so sweet it felt like dessert. I said I would happily pay for the drink but would like to just go for my usual martini instead. All this experimentation left me craving the my standby.

Unfortunately, he would not be deterred in his quest to find a cider I would like. As he walked away I called after him, “No, really, just a martini.” But he was already gone. Take this any way you like. He meant well, and the next cider was tasty, but I still just sipped a bit and then, when the moment was right, pounced and asked for the martini. I was never charged for the raspberry drink.

Now to the food. We began with an appetizer—patatas bravas ($4), hand-cut potatoes with spicy brava sauce, and two garden salads ($7), which the menu described as artichoke heart, piquillo pepper, heart of palm, grilled tomato, butter lettuce and sherry vinaigrette. The patatas were agreeable, and the salads were fine, except that they consisted solely of lettuce and dressing. Where were the artichokes? And those delectable heart of palms that had sealed the deal? Nowhere to be found. This was a disappointment. And we would have remained disenchanted if our main courses had not saved the day.

They were delicious. Janet had the flat iron steak chimichurri ($16), with roast corn pudding, cilantro, chilies, lime. The steak was juicy and had not a speck of fat. The chimichurri sauce was so good I couldn’t keep my fork away from her plate. I had the seared wasabi ahi tuna ($19), served with vinegared cucumber salad and gingered rice. My meal, too, was very good. The fish was moist, and the rice quite tasty, although it could have used a bit more ginger. It was the fish that sealed that deal.

In all, we left with a positive vibe for the place. The cider-instead-of-martini can be chalked up to a server trying his best to please. As for the artichoke-less salad, let’s hope they improve. Most likely, the kinks will be worked out eventually, the chef will remember the heart of palms, and the martinis will flow. I’m willing to give them another try. As Janet and I learned as we drove around the city earlier that night, new restaurants with promise can use all the help we can give them at the moment.