In restaurant years, the Hatch Cover's age is showing.
Nonetheless, who'd have thought an eatery with a marina motif established in 1974 would have such longevity in landlocked Colorado Springs? Although it's gone through a few face-lifts, and the waterfront décor is mostly a thing of the past, the two-story Hatch Cover still draws a crowd at both lunch and dinner. However, were it not for the occasional smile from employees it would be a cheerless place thanks to the dark, painted bulky wood trim and limited natural light.
The overall vibe is that of a sports bar with televisions in nearly every line of vision, pool tables, video games, electronic dart boards and alcoholic concoctions dispensed on each floor. The expansive, busy menu primarily features typical pub fare: numerous appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, steaks, chicken and pasta. There are seafood options, but nothing that shouts "ahoy, I'm fresh." In fact, a server verified the crabcakes were frozen.
Although both of my recent visits were unexceptional, neither were they complete duds. My lunch was served promptly and our server routinely checked to ensure we had everything we needed. My dining companion had worked at the Hatch Cover for many years beginning shortly after it opened. She shared anecdotes about its early history and her experiences there.
Unfortunately the au jus for My Mile High ($9.59), known elsewhere as a French dip, was particularly salty. The sandwich, composed of thin slices of roast beef topped with provolone on a soft roll, without the dipping jus was otherwise edible. The Reuben ($9.19) fared better. Served on beautifully marbled rye, it comes with a choice of turkey or corned beef. We went with the latter. The melted Swiss cheese, tangy sauerkraut and creamy Thousand Island dressing hit all the right notes. The waffle fries served on the side were crispy and plentiful, but did little to wow us.
On the other hand, the potato skins at dinner were impressive. Enough of the potato was left intact so the appetizer was more than a shell for toppings. The result was a blend of creaminess, melted cheddar, bacon and green onions ($3.25). Other options include chili or marinara.
Our server at dinner left us with the feeling that he had better places to be, better things to do. He wasn't rude, but he was far from attentive. This was unlike our lunch server who kept water glasses full, offered boxes at the end of our meal and was friendly.
We ordered the half rack of barbecue ribs ($13.99) with onion rings ($1 upcharge) and the Hawaiian chicken ($12.79) with a side salad ($1 upcharge, plus $.99 for blue cheese crumbles).
The ribs were juicy and coated with a sweet, messy sauce. Additional napkins would have been appreciated. (As an aside, I liked that cloth napkins are used in place of paper ones; this may have explained why we weren't offered extras.)
The poultry dish featured two grilled Teriyaki-marinated chicken breasts served with a grilled pineapple slice. Sauteed yellow and green squash with carrots, red and white onions accompanied the entree. The tender chicken was well-prepared, augmented by the sweet and savory sauce, a combination of soy sauce or mirin, garlic, ginger and honey. Most often it's bottled. No matter its place of origin, it complemented the chicken.
A steady flow of diners came and went during my visits, suggesting the Hatch Cover isn't going out to sea anytime soon.