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6.6
DEN

The Way Back

Anyone who's ever played the "If I owned a restaurant, here's what I'd do" game, knows this: You usually play it after a few drinks, and you alone know exactly what it takes to put together the perfect restaurant. Alcohol's a helluva drug.

The Way Back seemed to bring to life some of our better ideas: a laid-back bar up front with more intimate seating at the back, a strong drink menu, and a great location - it's even in a space that used to be a dog-friendly spot called "Bark Bar" (alright - now this is just getting weird).

On the surface, all the big things you want from a neighborhood restaurant are there. But on further inspection, just like our restaurant plans considered soberly the next morning, a lot of the little things have been overlooked.

During our first visit at The Way Back there were pops of greatness, and we were genuinely impressed - the atmosphere was inviting and fun, the food was really good, and the service was great. We left thinking we'd found something special. Our subsequent visit, however, wasn't nearly as great. And our third visit confirmed our fears: the restaurant of our dreams was too good to be true. They'd changed much of the menu we'd originally loved, and the service was pretty crummy.

This isn't to say The Way Back should be avoided, because they do still have things worth experiencing, especially their back patio. But you will need to have a gameplan going in.

First, order the baked chicken (by far the best thing on the menu) and a handful of sides. Second, you'll probably want to avoid coming here if there are more than two of you - the service gets worse with bigger parties. Third, get your order in quickly, and do it all at once. Our last server disappeared and was called out by another one for being in the back finishing his fantasy football draft. We get how important your draft is, but at least have a wingman ready to help out your table.

All in, think of The Way Back as a good option for a simple meal on short notice if you're in the area. They've lost their way, but we know there's great potential here. We've seen it.

Here's hoping they find their way...back.

Food Rundown

Roasted Half Chicken

The chicken is exceptional, and currently there's no need to experiment with much else as far as mains go. They recommend sharing this but once you try it, you're gonna get real stingy. This is worth a trip to The Way Back, just know that it'll take 30-45 minutes to cook.

Potatoes

These stand alone just fine as an appetizer, but we like them best as a side with the chicken. The crème fraîche and chives that come along made us wonder why we don't eat baked potatoes more often.

Beef Tartare

Simple, nothing unexpected. Not a must-order, but a good way to kill time while you're waiting for the chicken.

Cauliflower

A simple dish that won't blow your mind, but will be one of the better bites of cauliflower you've had in awhile. Roasted and served as a full head, with some nice spice. Another strong partner to get alongside your chicken order.

Shrimp Ceviche

A solid ceviche, with a good amount of acid and tang.

Lemon Cake

This was recently taken off the menu, so this is our plea that they put it back on. Basil ice cream, blueberries & sauce, ginger meringue whip, and buttery, moist lemon cake. We just wish there was more of it. If this is on the menu, get it.

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