2943 Adams Avenue, North Park
As if its lines didn't get long enough, meatball specialist Soda and Swine, located at the top of North Park at 30th and Adams, has put a short fence up around its storefront to create a dining patio large enough to fit three more of its communal wood dining tables. It's technically enough to hold maybe 20 more diners, which will certainly come in handy during peak hours. Its next-door sister establishment, Polite Provisions also added outdoor seating, albeit somewhat less rustic. You can still eat your Soda order over there, though I personally can't seem to reconcile the idea of eating meatballs amid brass and marble.
So I stuck to the wood tables side of the building, waiting my turn to order while some newbies in front of me discovered the menu for the first time.
Yes, there are chunks of bacon in the Brussels spouts. Yes you can add them to the mac and cheese as well. And all the meatballs, sauces, and cheeses are interchangeable. I get it. I see the excitement of possibilities light up your eyes as the three of you, eating together on separate checks, openly debate who's going to get what, changing each others' minds, offering to share some items in exchange for others. It's an exciting time, being at the front of the line.
Not a great time being here for the 15th, 20th time, knowing exactly what you want and simply having to wait. If there's a case for offering table service over counter ordering, Soda and Swine, this would be it. Let these guys discuss it at their table, asking their questions and fighting over the bill the humane way, i.e. not right in front of me.
Finally making it to the register, I proceeded to order something no first timer ever gets: the apple salad. Watercress, celery, manchego, and toasted hazelnuts.
It's a far cry from the smoked pork or chicken sliders, which I also ordered, but its fiber-rich presence on the menu should not be overlooked. Especially on a sunny day, trying out the new patio, it's a refreshing eat, with several different kinds of crunch to enjoy. Plus, apple and cheese was a favorite snack of my five-year-old self. Heck, pair it with the mac and cheese and I might feel like a kid again.
While cars cruised past on Adams Avenue in front of me, I chewed through my nostalgia, swatted the flies that kept coming after my sliders, and thought about how Consortium Holdings, the owner of Soda and Swine, Polite Provisions and several other spots around town, continues to expand its local hospitality empire, if only spatially. Mostly I wondered, when's the new Underbelly going to be open, already?