We're left a bit confused after our visit to the Viking. Some of that confusion comes down to the spot not even have had its grand opening yet, and good and bad impressions could, of course, change with time. Consider this early first impressions, yet confused impressions might be a better way to put it. It's hard to say what will improve, what was a fluke, and what was what.
Let's try to clarify.
First, the Viking is no longer the beer destination its previous incarnation was. This might change with time, but the tap selection is currently average at best. A few No-Lis, a couple of decent enough standards, and quite a few macros. The bottles consist mostly of the Budweisers of the world.
The bar was understaffed during our visit, but the girl working it did an admirable job -- always friendly and well organized. I'd notch the lack of staff down to a temporary thing.
What's not so easy to forgive, however, was allowing people sitting next to an open porch door while smoking. Having smoke blow in is annoying, and, of course, illegal, yet the Viking openly let it continue, something we more than anything find odd.
As for the food, the menu is pretty standard bar fare, but the quality here is higher than many, possibly even most, of its ilk. The Philly cheesesteak sandwich, for example, was up there with some of the better ones we've had in town, and went really quite well with a side of sweet potato fries. Not bad at all.
The hot wings had that typical Frank's style base to them, which isn't a crime, just a bit predictable. They were by all means good wings, with a bit of a bite to them -- none of that overly soggy stuff -- and while they weren't too hot, they had a subtle kick to them.
Really, the food, as far as bar fare goes, impressed. I will forgive their blatant misuse of "Norse" with many of their menu item names even.
So, is the confusion kind of making sense? There are teething issues at play here, but there are also certain issues that seem to be in the DNA. The people openly smoking, blowing smoke inside... That's bad. The beer, well, it could change, but I doubt Jones or Manito or Hop Shop or Pints have much to fear right now. Yet the food is very good, as long as you're in the mood for bar food.
We'll keep an Argus eye on Viking; it could be a good spot with some adjustments, adjustments they have more than enough time to make.