In a sense, possibly a great sense, we don't quite "get" Steam Plant Grill. Or, I suppose we get it, we just don't... identify?... with it. I don't know if that's the right word or not, and our feelings about Steam Plant are all very confounding.
To try to explain...
Steam Plant is, in a sense, a Twigs or an Applebee's on steroids. It's not a place where you come to marvel at culinary ingenuity or experience a brewery like no other. It's more of a spot you go for after-work drinks and appetizers, where both beverages and food is secondary to conversation. Non-complicated stuff that stays out of the way.
This might sound like a putdown, but it isn't. Spots like this have their place, and Steam Plant is good for what it is. The service is excellent, and they bend backward to help you organize anything from power lunches to banquets.
Food wise, they do just fine for what they are aiming for. The quesadillas actually have a bit of a kick to them, and while the standard chicken-filled tortillas with salsa and guacamole on the side might not be overly exciting, they aren't bad.
The beer -- made by Steam Plant's own brewery -- won't set the world on fire, though some of the lighter ales are pretty OK. It's not often I'd go with a blonde over a stout, but here we have an exception. The ale actually has a pretty good maltiness to it, and hits well on the refreshing factor.
And if this all sounds like we keep saying "could be worse" and "not downright awful" and "better than being repeatedly punched in the face" then yes, that is kind of what we're saying. This isn't a place you'd go for a hallelujah culinary experience.
One can quite correctly claim a restaurant shouldn't keep itself completely in the background of socializing, and I doubt we'll see ourselves frequenting Steam Plant. It has literally been years since we visited last, and it'll probably be years until we visit again.
The place is about as good as it gets, though, for those who are looking for something simple, something Applebee's-like that doesn't downright suck. There's a place for Steam Plant, and while it might not be in your or our hearts, we can't help being OK with that.
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