I took a trip over to Meridian Pint at 11th and Park last night for their soft opening: and it's pretty cool. The first thing that I noticed was that the space is BIG! Upstairs had a bar for about 30 people, plus some big communal tables, a number of smaller tables, and maybe a dozen booths. There were 2 TVs over the bar.
Downstairs was pretty cool, it was more open with another bar, a few tables in one corner, and the tables with the table taps (i.e. the beer you pour yourself). There were also 3 TVs, a pool table and bar shuffleboard, which is pretty cool to see. They also had funny double entendre industrial drawings on the walls.
So, the part most people are probably wondering about: and table taps, where you pour your own beer at the tables. There were two tables that had them, and each had two taps. It works like this: when you first sit down, you can ask for whatever beers you want that are on draft. Each has 12 pints, and after you finish one of the 12 pints you can get another kind, or just get more of the same. The taps had digital touchscreens on them that tell you how many pints you've had and how much you spent. The touchscreens also had a way to order individual beers, but I was sort of confused about that -- I guess that's if you want to order something that's not on your table tap, and then the server brings it over. The price seemed the same as the menu, $4-$7.
We figured people might get too drunk or have drinking contests, but the bartender has a cutoff switch, which is pretty funny. I bet they'll get a lot of questions about the taps too. We were wondering about washing glasses, since you're reusing yours for each beer, and also about tipping: since you're pouring your own beer, what do you do? We asked the waitress and she thought it would be about normal, since presumably people downstairs would be ordering food. The waitress also said that if folks are sitting there and not drinking while people are waiting, they'll kick them off the table. I assume that means not drinking ever, not as in just taking a break or something. She also said they're still trying to figure out the guidelines for the taps, so that may change.
Pouring can take some getting used to as well. Our first pour didn't come out too well.
Now, the beer: there's lots on tap, about 25 total, ranging from about $4 to $7, plus a few bigger bottles, mostly around the 750 ml size. I had some Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, and it was great. I didn't have food, but some of the folks who tried it said it was tasty stuff. There's also a lot of veggie and vegan options.
John Andrade, the main owner, came over to talk to us about the place, and he emphasized that they're trying to make it an environmentally friendly restaurant, noting that they're going to compost most trash so that only about 10% actually enters the waste stream, that most people who work there live within 5 blocks, and mentioning how they're supporting American breweries rather than ones that have to be shipped in.
Overall I liked it, but the atmosphere seemed a little odd. It almost seemed too open, both upstairs and downstairs, despite the big crowd there. The downstairs section with the small tables also seemed awkward, and nobody was sitting there. This was where Andrade had talked about potentially having a dance floor or DJ, which would work better I think. Then again, this a brand new place so they're still working out the kinks. And thanks to my frienemies at The Heights Life for letting me know about the opening!
A couple more photos below, and I have more on my Flickr as well.
the odd downstairs corner
upstairs -- it's lighter than this.