When Katy Trail Ice House opened along the eponymous exercise trail on March 25, it was feted as the next it-bar. Capitulating to this hysteria, I too visited the bar on opening day, much to my chagrin.
Anticipating a fine pint of Jester King or Thirsty Planet as a reward for my 10-mile bike ride from my house through Knox-Henderson and then down the trail, I was met with the sad news the taps weren't connected. "Maybe this weekend," the bartender said in an effort to console me. Settling for a frosty bottle of Shiner Bock, I sat at a picnic table in the sprawling patio open to the Katy Trail. The waitress brought me a menu. There was listed Real Ale and Franconia. There, Live Oak and Rahr. I was crestfallen. The complete food menu wasn't available on opening day. No problem. The owners are emphasizing craft beer here. There was only Shiner. To paraphrase a friend of mine who visited the Ice House later, it was the best Shiner I've ever had.
The grilled cheese I ordered concealed slices of acrid pickle and a thumbnail sliver of bacon, none of which were listed as ingredients in the grilled cheese on the menu. The bacon could have accidentally got into the sandwich during preparation, but the pickles should have been noted.
Since then the bar has been beset with setback after setback. One customer waited an hour for a burger before she left the premises, it was reported on the establishment's Facebook page. The original grand-opening celebration had to be rescheduled because of further problems with the taps. It is going to take place Wednesday.
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General manager Jonathan Lacy said the owners and staff had kowtowed to popular pressure. The clamor for the Ice House was so great, it was decided to open ahead of schedule, that is, prematurely.
Operation snags are the least of the worries. It's located along a popular exercise trail on which Lauren Huddleston died in 2010. The potential for injury or fatality is a concern on any public trail, much less one sharing real estate with a bar or the harassment reported by the FrontBurner blog. "We don't over-serve," said Lacy. Every bar over-serves. I wish I could count how many times I watched a bouncer re-admit a customer who had vomited on the sidewalk outside or a bartender who had poured another glass for a customer who slurred the request.
The Ice House shows such immense promise with its Texas craft-beer garden concept -- and now the taps are flowing -- but unless the SMU Brittanys, Barbies and Brooks refrain from flooding the area, the rubbernecking beer-guzzling will continue, outnumbering the patrons who want to enjoy a Texas microbrew mid-jog. Do the owners such as Buddy Cramer and Joe Tillotson, with resumes that include Bryan Street Tavern, Barley House and Mi Cocina, want that sort of debauchery as reputation?
Katy Trail Ice House 3136B Routh St. 214-468-0600