“We have enjoyed preparing many of your esoteric dishes. Your Monte Cristo sandwich is a current favorite among the adventurous.”— Mathesar, Galaxy Quest
The area near Brookings’ Exit 132 seems to be in a constant state of change. Even frequent visitors, like myself, aren’t surprised to see new strip malls and stores pop up seemingly overnight. On a recent visit, I found that the old mainstay Staurolite Inn had become an Econo Lodge and the connected restaurant space was now called 1429 Roadhouse (named for the junction of I-29 and Highway 14, where the building sits). Since it was lunchtime, I figured ‘why not?’
Upon entering 1429 Roadhouse, it is clear that the new owners are making an effort. The generic rectangular space has been jazzed up with some “woodsy” touches, like log pillars and a rustic-looking wooden bar near the center of the room. At noon on a weekday, roughly half of the four-tops were occupied, as well as a long table that held a large group of coworkers.
The menu is full of bar and deli favorites like burgers and sandwiches, with a few salads and steaks thrown in for good measure. Although we were tempted to try 1429’s take on the Cuban (served on a chipotle hoagie) or Thai Chicken Wrap (featuring fried chicken and bleu cheese), we decided to order the Picnic Burger, Monte Cristo, and Grilled Steak Philly (recommended by our server), with fries, sweet potato tots, and soup as our sides.
The soup came out after just a few minutes. It was a homemade vegetable beef, which immediately brought me back to my childhood home. Of course, the soup of yesteryear was canned, and not nearly as good as this flavorful broth in front of me packed with meat, carrots, tomatoes, and peas, but it was a happy convergence of my more discerning adult palate with that of my much younger self.
After about 10 minutes, the rest of our food arrived, packed into paper-lined baskets. The Grilled Steak Philly was served with a side of densely beefy and garlicky jus, which was absorbed well by the soft roll full of meat and melty cheese. The peppers and onions were grilled well, a touch I very much appreciate. I like a fresh veggie as much as anyone, but a Philly is not the place for a crunchy raw pepper. If I was a Philly purist, I would probably be up in arms over the presence of jus, but I’m first and foremost a proponent of flavor. Therefore, this sandwich gets my stamp of approval.
The Picnic Burger was really tasty, as well. It is a patty topped with pulled pork and coleslaw, served between slices of Texas toast. The cabbage was crunchy, the pork was tender and saturated in barbecue, and the toast maintained its integrity among the sauces. The burger was a little lost and it was a bit messy to eat, but if anyone ordered this item and expected otherwise, I would question their reasoning. If I’m trying to look like a lady while eating, I know to avoid the barbecue genre altogether.The cabbage was crunchy, the pork was tender and saturated in barbecue sauce, and the toast maintained its integrity among the sauces.
Finally, I bit into the Monte Cristo. It’s amazing how a sandwich can be called by the same name – Philly, Club, Cuban, Monte Cristo – and vary so widely from restaurant to restaurant. This one had the classic hot turkey, ham, and Swiss between slices of powder sugar-dusted battered bread. What set this one apart, though, was that the bread tasted like a mini donut, without the heaviness. It was a really interesting blend of sweet, salty, and savory. What put it over the top for me was the side of raspberry vinaigrette sauce. It got mixed reviews at the table, but I was on the positive side of the debate. Being a vinaigrette, it wasn’t excessively sweet. It actually introduced a slightly sour component, and increased the complexity of the composition.
As for the other sides, the fries appeared to be hand cut and were well-seasoned. There was nothing quirky or interesting about them, but we ate every last one. The sweet potato tots were crunchy on the outside and hot in the middle, as one would hope. We got both the ranch and marshmallow sauces that were offered. Personally, I like a savory sweet potato, so I ate most of my tots with the ranch. But for the novelty if nothing else, I gave the marshmallow sauce a try. The flavor was pure Thanksgiving dinner. Earthy-sweet mixed with sugary-sweet. Nostalgic, but not my personal cup of tea. Except maybe as a dessert.
We were surprised by not only the quality of our food, but the creativity. I’ll definitely be back to try the Thai Chicken Wrap to taste how fried chicken and bleu cheese mingle with Thai sauce. Probably really well.
Clean and lively with some architectural touches.
Our server was on top of refills and our food came in a timely manner. No complaints.
We expected very standard bar and grill fare. This was better.
It’s the facts
Happy hour is 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, with $1 off wells and tap beer, and half price appetizers.
The specialty cocktail list includes a 1429 Bloody Jack (also a nod to nearby SDSU?), which is a Bloody Mary for whiskey lovers.
The wall of staurolite rock was quarried in the Keystone area, while the logs and wood elements are from Brookings.