Restaurant review: Man's best friend in Wagener Terrace

Biggie’s Gastropub is at 730 Rutledge Ave.

Biggie's Gastropub (aka Biggie's Southern Gastropub) is Trae Wilson's latest reincarnation of the cafe once known as Granville's. Maybe it took a "dog year" for Wilson to gain traction at Grove Street and Rutledge Avenue for his current tavern enterprise.

Maybe he just needed Biggie, a gentle mastiff, to get "Sirius" about his comfortable, neighborhood pub. Or maybe he needed the talents of Brent Sweatman, a creative cocktail maker, who uses roots, shoots and leaves to craft a menu of comfort libations and seasonal spirits.

Last summer, he got the basics right and opened Biggie's in the Wagener Terrace neighborhood. Lunch originally was on the menu. It is presently not offered. Brunch "might" be coming. Maybe he has learned to take baby steps at Biggie's because he is walking his way into a successful operation as a local watering hole.

This local pub opens at 4 p.m. and serves a limited menu of bar-friendly small plates ($5), sandwiches ($5.95-$8.95) and entrees (MP).

The small plates are cocktail friendly with just enough saltiness to trip your thirst breaker. House-made potato chips ($5) are topped with cheddar cheese, Eden Farms bacon bits and scallion rings. Lobster-crab dip and pimiento cheese with their sides of crostini well-serve the cocktail hours.

Salads are limited to a toss of romaine with bacon, tomatoes and cheese ($5) and a refreshing butter bean salad ($5) invigorated by strips of roasted red peppers and a slightly sweet white balsamic vinaigrette.

The kitchen also runs a variety of specials. A few have been freshly made pastas, paellas and meatloaf featured every Monday. The cost for the Monday Meatloaf is $5, and it is a keeper. A generous slice of meatloaf ($10 as an entree special) was served with mashed potatoes and a chunky mushroom ragout. The meatloaf itself was girdled with a strip of tomato "fruit leather," and the beefy loaf was studded with peppers and onions. Buttery mashed potatoes rounded out this comfort food classic. It was hearty and homespun, marred only by potatoes served chilly. The $5 Monday special is a little smaller than the entree special, according to our server. Either way, it hits the value equation for money and food.

Burgers ($7.95) are ground in-house and served with the homemade potato chips. Add cheese, caramelized onions, bacon or mushrooms for 50 cents.

A pulled pork sandwich ($8.95) was a bit on the dry side, but the flavor of the pork did not disappoint.

Daily specials have included black bean and butternut squash soups, mussels, braised beef, pickled beets, fried okra and boiled peanuts. Visit Biggie's on Facebook to see what's cooking.

Beer hunters will be happy with the tap and bottled selection. Local Westbrook and Kind, regional Duck Rabbit Stout (N.C.) and the requisite Belgian ales flow easily from the tap and cooler.

Pricing at Biggie's is its big plus. Beers range $3-$7; cocktails and wines $6-$8. With bar food all priced at $5 and sandwiches under $9, Biggie's does its part to fit into your entertainment budget.

A creative cocktail menu charms. Sweatman makes the mixers in-house -- the restaurant grows its own herbs and the fruit juices are pressed daily. Bourbon is infused with sweet pecans, lavender perfumes the gin, rosemary infuses the vodka. Have a "hoptail" or a warm Tom and Jerry. Try the Hampton Park Sour with a Malbec float -- think of it as a tequila sunrise for winter drinking.

The bar has been expanded, and the rummaged building materials bring thrift and comfort to the former Granville's. One design flaw is a door that opens from the patio into the dining room. It's great for the service staff in the summer but an Arctic blast for diners in the winter.

Biggie's Gastropub is a neighborhood bar spiked with good intentions. An edited menu, value pricing and a friendly staff earn it cheers for residents of Wagener Terrace and beyond. Maybe it took man's best friend to lead Trae Wilson and company to a restaurant concept that is loyal and dependable and will last a dog year.