Till Kitchen's single-page menu speaks volumes in its brevity, and trying to decide among the fewer than two dozen choices was difficult because everything looks tempting.
I'd heard that Till's prices were the same for lunch and dinner. A $26 lunch entree may not be in the cards for most diners. It's another thing, though, for dinner.
Since the wood-fired pizza oven is the first thing you see after entering the front door, we were enticed to start with a margherita pizza ($13). Thin, crispy sourdough crust with just enough char on the bottom to deliver a slight woodsy taste was topped with gooey mozzarella, tomatoes and thin strips of fresh basil. It was a well-executed version. The hand-tossed, 12-inch pizza is enough for a small group to share as an appetizer or for two as an entree if supplemented with a salad.
I appreciate servers who share their opinions when asked for advice on what to order because most usually default to personal favorites. This was the case with Jessica at Till. She said her go-to entrees are the pecan smoked beef short ribs with mustard barbecue sauce ($26) and the brined pork chop ($28) Her fervor was too difficult to dismiss; we ordered both.
Let's begin with the short rib. I started to use my knife to cut a piece of meat but soon realized it was unnecessary. The beef fell apart like something made of confetti. It left no doubt that it had been in the smoker for hours. The tangy mustard barbecue sauce was almost pointless. The creamy mashed potatoes balanced the piquancy of the mustard. Jessica described the peanut cole slaw as "magical." I wouldn't go that far, but it was fresh, crunchy and added color to the plate.
Jessica said the green chili grits served with the pork chop was her all-time favorite item on the menu. With their spicy kick, I see why. The thick-as-a-brick but surprisingly tender chop was infused with a subtle smokiness. The flavors complemented each other well.
We also tried the fried chicken - one of the nightly specials, though I'm glad it's not a menu regular. The bacon gravy along with the other seasonings was too salty to enjoy. Jessica noticed the lack of enthusiasm and offered to bring another entree or a new serving of chicken sans gravy. We were impressed with her awareness of our disappointment. Not long afterward the manager stopped by our table to apologize and to assure us the dish was being re-fired to our liking - an example of excellent service.
Till features an open kitchen design and a farm-inspired - not to be confused with farm-to-table - menu. I was disappointed that bread is not complimentary, especially since it's made in-house.
The large room with its high ceilings and faux industrial décor is loud, but conversation at my table was not hampered.
Ultimately, what could have been issues for my table vanished - except for the bread charge - once I saw the staff at work and took my first bite of Till's food.