Signature Dish: North Pole goes classic comfort food with meatloaf

Aug 16, 2016

One might expect a restaurant called The North Pole to feature and entire menu of Christmas-themed offerings. Eggnog ice cream, anyone? What about reindeer sausage (sorry, Rudolph)?

But that’s not what you’ll find at The North Pole Restaurant and Party House, 243 South Swan St. Instead you’ll see a manifest of classic American comfort food. And at the center of it all is the signature dish: meatloaf.

Surrounded by a residential neighborhood, The North Pole is housed in the former St. Nick’s Club. And it maintains the community feel.

“We try to keep it as a family establishment,” said Chris Bardol, who runs the restaurant with his sister, Jennifer, and their father, Raymond. “We try to keep things homemade and family friendly.”

That’s why they go with comfort food. And is there a better example of American comfort food than meatloaf? Not likely.

The meatloaf — all 1 pound of it — comes on a platter with two huge scoops of mashed potatoes. It’s all slathered with brown gravy to make the dish look like an erupting volcano. It’s the kind of plate your grandmother would serve you, especially if she, like most grandmothers, believes a full belly is a happy belly.

“I want people to order this and say “Wow, that’s a lot of food,’” Bardol said. “I don’t want them to say ‘That’s it.’ They’re getting their money’s worth.”

The meatloaf is prepared traditionally with chunks of onion and bell peppers. It’s seasoned well with a crunchy exterior and moist interior. Then there’s the gravy, which is thick and rich.

“When my mom made it, it was always ketchup. It was just meatloaf with ketchup,” Bardol joked. “We had to learn how to make the gravy.”

A staple on the American dinner table, meatloaf is not seen as much in restaurants as it once was. But the North Pole keeps it to help create its family atmosphere. And it’s one of the top sellers.

Bardol, who has a culinary arts degree from Robert Morris University, worked with a friend in the restaurant business to create the recipes for the meatloaf and all of the different sauces served in the restaurant.

“We try to keep it a family environment,” Bardol said. “You don’t have to dress up to come here. Bring your family for a good meal at a reasonable price.”

The meatloaf sells for $10.99.

By MATT KRUEGER, Batavia Daily News