First Look at Shepherd Park Draught House
On the end of an unassuming strip mall in Independence Heights lies Shepherd Park Draught House, the latest venture of Ken Bridge, owner of the Delicious Concepts restaurant group which also operates Pink's Pizza, Dragon Bowl and Lola. As if an empire of pizza, noodles, and comfort foods wasn't enough, Bridge has decided to expand outside of the Heights proper to open a draught house complete with beers on tap and a menu boasting an assortment of foods and cuisines. Located on Shepherd just north of the 610 loop with plentiful food and brews, Shepherd Park might give Petrol Station a run for their money.
Photo by Ken Sheppard Try the Korean short rib tacos...
One advantage Petrol may have over Shepherd Park, though, is the location itself. Somehow, parking in the lot of a strip mall just doesn't have the same friendly neighborhood-pub feel as parking on a tree-lined street and strolling over to what once was a gas station in its previous life, and is now Petrol. But once I stepped inside Shepherd Park, the vibe was completely different. It was dim, it was crowded, and retro music rocked over the speakers. There was no apparent order, no hostess station, no empty tables at which we could seat ourselves. We were told by a passing employee that there would probably be a 15-minute wait.
Running the length of the restaurant bar outside is a patio that holds many a coveted seat on cool nights. But it was at a booth tucked away in the back of the restaurant where we ended up. The chairs and tables are an eclectic mix, and on the walls hang old music posters from Bridge's own personal collection. It has a retro vintage feel, like a 20-year-old's 1980s abode.
"The interior is very reflective of my personality," Bridge said. "I wanted to build an inviting space that felt like home and represent where I came from." Bridge, who had taken a break from the kitchen to marvel at his latest project, seemed pleased that there was a crowd this particular Friday evening, and he strolled the place in his chef's apron saying hello to diners.
Like the decor, the menu is a hodgepodge: Korean short rib tacos, goat cheese ravioli, and fire-roasted hummus all being pumped out of the same kitchen? I was dubious, having an affinity for places that do only one thing and do it well. What was with this Cheesecake Factory-like menu? Would Shepherd Park become the real-life version of Babu's Dream Cafe? When asked why he devised such a menu, Bridge said he'd wanted to have a dynamic approach to the food while also keeping a sense of familiarity. The only way to alleviate my suspicions was to order a variety, and that we did.