The first thing that strikes you about Dave & Cranky Chuckie's restaurant in Provo is the name.
The second thing is the title's tagline: Tastefully Abrasive American Bistro.
How could anyone not want to try out a place so intriguingly titled? The name alone drew us in for a visit like moths to a flame.
Speaking of flames, there was a toasty fireplace blazing away in the main dining room -- which was certainly a comfort on our recent frigid Friday night visit. The restaurant is located upstairs in a building just off the southeast corner of Brigham Young University campus (in the spot occupied for years by El Azteca), and the welcome warmth from above could be felt about halfway up the inside stairs leading to the dining room.
The dining room itself immediately grabbed our attention. It had an intimate, cozy feel with an air of sophistication. We especially loved the unique, very tall drink glasses -- which added a cool touch even when they were just filled with water. There was a tastefully adorned Christmas tree in the middle of the room, and 10 tables, seating four each, and a bar for additional seating. Each table featured a vase with fresh flowers.
We also loved the simplicity of the menu, printed on one larger-than-you'd-expect sheet with a get-straight-to-the-point, understated feel, featuring a somewhat straightforward amount of choices.
One of our servers, who we were to later recognize as Dave from the title, said Cranky Chuckie -- yes, that's how he always referred to him -- purposely keeps the menu options limited because everything on there is one of his favorite dishes and he loves to be able to personally endorse them all. We side with Cranky Chuckie on this one, as everything we tried was indeed eminently endorsable.
To start things off, Dave brought us some complimentary focaccia bread and dipping sauce, featuring a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. When we inquired about the bread, Dave told us the Chuckster tinkers with it and "makes it fresh every night -- so if you get too attached to it ... sorry!"
Ah, so that's where the "tastefully abrasive" attitude comes in. It also reared its sardonically snarky head when a waitress apparently visited our table once too often. "Stop pestering them!" Dave shouted from across the room.
Of course, it was all in good fun and we found the good-natured vibe to our liking. Something else we found to our liking was the food. Of the four available appetizers, our party couldn't decide between the Bacon Nachos or the Triple Layered Cheese Fries. Turns out we didn't have to. Dave let us order a half plate of each.
We somewhat expected the two options to appear side by side on one plate, but Cranky Chuckie threw us for a loop by essentially weaving and inter-mixing the two options into one huge, glorious pile of gluttony. The whole concoction featured flaky, deep fried tortilla chips, bacon, a nacho-style cheese sauce, corn, green and red peppers, sour cream, American and mozzarella cheeses and, of course, french fries. There also seemed to be a hint of fry sauce somewhere in there. This appetizer combo was so good together we think it should be a standard part of the menu!
The Cheddar, Bacon and Leek Soup was hearty and delicious, and came with some of the largest croutons we've ever seen. Dave told us the croutons were made from the same fresh foccacia bread we had sampled earlier.
We also tried the Strawberry and Grilled Chicken with raspberry pomegranate vinaigrette -- and it tasted as exotic as it sounds.
As for main entrees, we opted for the Braised Apple Chicken, which was accompanied by garlic and herb risotto and corn succotash; and the Epic Loaded Baked Potato. The former offered an interesting contrast with the apples and chicken, and we didn't suffer in succotash -- as we really enjoyed the corn-and-red onion combination. The baked potato came as advertised as it was loaded with corn, bacon, green and red peppers, shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, a cheese sauce and ranch dressing. We were told that only three people had managed to completely finish the dish in-house since the restaurant opened in early November -- and our 12-year-old daughter, who ordered it, didn't stand a chance at becoming the fourth. But the adults at the table chipped in and put a dent in the leftover portion by snagging generous samplings.
Just when we figured we couldn't eat another thing, Cranky Chuckie sent over a free bowl of Chocolate Custard with Blackberry Compote, a new dessert. We must have figured wrong, because we had no problem savoring every bite of the decadent dessert.
Dave & Cranky Chuckie's offered one of the most enjoyable dining adventures we have had in months. The restaurant is currently open only during dinner hours, but is hoping to add breakfast and lunch shifts in the near future. If you like cool ambiance and some offbeat American bistro choices, served with a dash of attitude, then you should definitely check it out.