The Guilfordian

Filed under In Print, Opinion

Mad Hatter revamps and returns to old menu

The Mad Hatter restaurant off West Friendly Avenue has returned to their original 2013 menu. This change happened over a period of two days, with the bar and grill reopening Sept. 20.

The Mad Hatter was a bar and grill that had amazing food. I remember getting their PB&J burger one of the first times I went there a few years ago. It was our go-to place after lacrosse games or when my family came down. The food was delicious and there was something on their menu for everyone. They offered a unique brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and their burgers and pickle chips were to die for.

The decor is industrial with metal chairs and windows that look like garage doors. There is a slight touch of a sports bar feel with a few TVs mounted throughout the restaurant. The atmosphere is always light and fun. Families can bring their children, but there is also a rather large college student crowd. It is a place for anyone to enjoy, especially with their phenomenal music playlist ranging from today’s hits to throwbacks.

Then several months ago they rebranded and became a raw oyster bar. They did away with their original menu and focused more on seafood. I am originally from Baltimore and grew up eating seafood, especially crabs. I was excited for their change, but disappointed that the menu was completely different. The menu was not as friendly to the general population because of the focus on seafood. This was not the type of restaurant that would be able to thrive off this menu overhaul. They were better with the original menu.

The atmosphere also took on a change when they shifted toward the oyster bar. The best way to describe it is simply confused. They were stuck between the original Mad Hatter and the raw oyster bar. Even the wait staff did not seem as confident when they were going through the process of changing to the oyster bar.

On Sunday, Sept. 23, I decided to go to Mad Hatter for brunch because I could not remember the last time I had gone there since they changed their menu. When my boyfriend and I arrived, the original Mad Hatter banner was wrapped around the former oyster bar logo. I was instantly intrigued.

We were seated in the bar area and our waiter gave us the old menus from the original Mad Hatter. Our waiter was extremely friendly and hooked us up with mimosas that were way too strong. We ordered the sausage sliders for an appetizer and they were fantastic.

The owner of the bar and grill made his way to our table and introduced himself. He explained to us that they closed two days the week before to give the place a fresh coat of paint and go back to the original Mad Hatter. They brought up the old menus from the basement and did away with the Raw Oyster Bar. He was extremely nice and thanked us for coming out to enjoy the original Mad Hatter once again.

I ordered the huevos rancheros for brunch. After filling up on the sausage sliders, I did not eat much of my actual meal. The eggs and guacamole on the tortilla were so savory and rich. I could only take a few bites of it before I was completely full.

The food was delicious, the service was great and the atmosphere of the bar felt right. It was good to be back at the old Mad Hatter.

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