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Varsity Draft House Sits On The Bench

… and even then, it’s for the Junior Varsity team.

Last week, we reported on the unceremonious closing of the Tilted Kilt on Town Center Drive.  The restaurant, known more for its eye candy than its fare, had a short stint in a space that hasn’t seen much success.  When we caught up with the restaurant’s management last week, they assured us, they weren’t going anywhere, just changing about everything up.

According to General Manager Richard Moore, the restaurant’s ownership recognized that the Tilted Kilt format didn’t necessarily fit in with the experiences that most Santa Claritans were looking for. However, they knew that they wanted to be in Santa Clarita and be on Town Center Drive.

“We have made a commitment to be here a long time” Richard told me last week.  “We love the community.”

So Richard, with the full faith and confidence of the ownership began a lengthy process to evolve the restaurant into what it is today, the Varsity Draft House.   Boasting dozens of flat-screen TVs, 50 beers and a menu that Moore said has three times the amount of items on it that the previous menu had, Varsity opened Friday, January 9th, just four days after closing as Tilted Kilt.   Drawing on his near quarter century of experience in the restaurant industry, Moore designed the menu pulling inspiration from the many restaurants he’s worked in nationwide.  The influence is obvious with additions such as Rhode Island Clam Chowder to the menu.
Nachos
The new menu features sandwiches and salads, as well as many burgers, hot dogs and other entrees, some of which are familiar from the previous brand (fish and chips, anyone?)  Wanting to be more family friendly, they’ve added a kids menu with the standard kids choices of chicken strips, mac and cheese, a small burger, etc.  (It was nice was an offering of buffalo wings without the heat, though my daughter didn’t want them, so we’ll have to try another day…)  We started off with the nachos “all the way” with some chicken.  I found them to lack much cheese, mostly were some plain tasting beans with some green, white and red stuff on the side.  Adding the chicken for an extra dollar, we got, well, what you’d probably expect for $1 worth of chicken.
Salad
My wife went with what is labeled a “harvest salad” featuring spring mix and fall staples like apple, cranberry and walnut. (The dichotomy of the seasons notwithstanding, she only wished the apples were chopped instead of sliced.  Easier to eat that way…)  I sampled the aforementioned fish and chips, having been promised cod by both the menu and our server.  The fish was OK in the first bite, although the shape it arrived in lead me to believe it was rather processed and not as “fresh” as the menu claims (have you seen a cod with rectangular fillet?).  My last piece was completely overcooked and I couldn’t finish it.  The fries were very heavily salted and rubbery.  I had a few and that was all I needed there.

FishAndChips

When I spoke with Richard last week, he sounded confident in the burgers that Varsity would be cranking out.  “If I have a great burger, a cold beer, and the game on, I’ll be in heaven”  Moore commented.  Their menu even boasts of  their “hall of fame” burgers.  This time I didn’t sample the burgers as I had talked with Lady Ducayne earlier in the day and she had experienced one.  Take a look at her experience for yourself.
PardonTheDust
Overall, I really do applaud the ownership and management of the new Varsity Draft House for recognizing that they didn’t have a particularly great product that fit in well in a special market like Santa Clarita.  Regrettably I think that they needed to not try and rush this turnaround in such a short period.  On the menu, and on table cards, a “pardon our dust” message is featured letting patrons know the transition is still, well, in transition.  As much as they have tried to make this a “family friendly” establishment, it still is what it is.  A sports bar.  Lots of beer on tap, with a special reserved six taps for specialty microbrews and tap takeover nights, plus a large open (and loud) space, gigantic bar area, 5000 square inches of televisions and average bar food with about average bar food quality.  I have no doubt it’ll be a great place to take in a game, or go with some friends for a beer, but don’t expect to take your family for a quiet dinner.

Varsity Draft House
24300 Town Center Drive Suite 110
Valencia, California 91355
661-799-8888