Tuesday, April 24, 2007


After being closed for several months, a new place opened in the old Boulevard Restaurant in Newport News. The name "RETROS" snakes along the arch in bold white letters.

Dave and I came in about 6:45 p.m. on a Monday. It had an empty, closed look (admittedly, this wasn’t a big sports night), but the doors opened easily in. One thing was right, however: it was completely empty.

We looked around, then noticed a guy leaning against the bar. He greeted us, then asked if we were there for drinks or food. I told him we wanted dinner and a quiet booth, which he quickly led us to, asking if he could get us something to drink. When it quickly became apparent that there was no real wine selection, he told us about some exciting new shots that were on special that night. As neither of us has been in the mood for shots in, say, years, I got a Budweiser ($3) and Dave had a Yuengling ($3).

The menus were a quick peruse, and the lineup standard bar food. We were hoping the comfort food would make up for the lack of atmosphere.

Appetizers included wings, chicken tenders, fries, nachos and spinach dip, and had cutesy names referencing sports. Sandwiches, or “the line up," were burgers, Cuban sandwiches, pastrami and the like. The back of the menu held a tiny section of “home runs” — entree-sized steaks, jumbo shrimp, foot long hot dogs and a couple of pasta dishes.

There’s also a “Hot Zone” menu, perched conveniently in a plastic placard on the table. I was immediately drawn to the chicken ’n’ waffles ($9), while Dave thought the sampler platter ($12) would offer us a nice selection. He also opted to start with a Caesar salad ($2.99), while I got the house salad.

The wait was under way, minutes slowly ticking by, while music blared to an empty house. We saw our waitress readying things at the bar, and running silver and napkins to and fro.
— 7:15 came and went, still there was no sign of our salads.
— At 7:20, another couple walked in and sat at the bar. Dave was casting an eye about for the waitress.
— 45 minutes after we arrived, she finally came with our salads.

“I’m sorry, I’m new!” she laughed, setting them down and hurrying off again. The salad greens were bright, but not crisp. The large wedges of tomatoes were cold and mealy, while the cucumbers were water-logged and mushy.

The waitress returned with the sampler platter, setting it in front of Dave. She told me that the manager was personally going to make my chicken ’n’ waffles, as there was some problem with the cook. I asked what was wrong, she said he was just being very slow, and that’s why our salads took so long.

The sampler platter comes with your choice of four of six items. The quesadilla wedges were cold, with congealing cheese. The wings were salty and overcooked, although the sticky ribs were plump. The catfish strips were easily the best thing in front of us, with a nicely spiced coating in perfect proportion to the fish.

My chicken ’n’ waffles finally came, plunked down with a whole bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup. The manager came by after her, very apologetic and saying that they would be removed from our bill. I thanked him, and tucked into the plate.

The chicken portion were three fried wings, pretty much the same ones that had been on Dave’s platter. The waffle, mounded with a fat round of butter, was eggy and tinged with vanilla, crust nicely crisped and golden brown. With a touch of Aunt Jemima’s lovin’, it wasn’t so bad.

We paid up and left. Retros ... it’s a bar.

Retros Bar and Lounge

11135 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News
Phone: 223-4629
Web site: www.retrosrestaurant.com
Specialties: bar food (fresh, not frozen); signature dish is the chicken 'n' waffles
Price range: Price range: appetizers: $5.99-$11.99; salads: $2.99-$9.99; sandwiches: $6.99-$7.99; entrees: $6.99-$13.99; signature recipes: $4-$12
Hours: 4 p.m.- 2 a.m., seven days a week
Alcohol: beer, wine, full bar
Smoking: yes
Vegetarian: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards, checks
Noise level: blaring music but no voices to speak over on a recent Monday night
Atmosphere: bar
Additional Information: daily specials
Star rating: food 1 1/2, atmosphere 1, service 2
(out of five stars)


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