Garner, N.C. — Out & About has covered Moonrunners Saloon recently because of their appearance on the Spike TV show "Bar Rescue," but now that the hype has died down, we decided to pay the relaunched restaurant a visit.
The restaurant: Moonrunners now markets itself as a burger and steak joint with sandwiches and appetizers typical of a bar and grill. The interior looks like a modern saloon with wooden tables and chairs and pictures of old cars on the walls. This saloon also has several big-screen TVs to catch the big game.
The company: My fiance and I went to Moonrunners for a late Sunday night dinner. We were there around 9 p.m., and we had the place to ourselves.
The location: Moonrunners is on Highway 70, just off the 401-70 split south of Raleigh. Its convenient location makes the restaurant easy to get to.
The meal: We both went for burgers, which come with your choice of coleslaw, a side salad, potato salad, house chips or French fries.
My Southwestern Burger, topped with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and onion rings, was actually pretty good. After having less-than-average experiences at Characters Quarters, I was a little hesitant to try the restaurant again in its new form, but I was pleasantly surprised. The kaiser roll the burger was served on was toasted, which prevented it from becoming a soggy mess. The burger had a good flavor and was cooked well-done like I had ordered, while still remaining juicy.
My only complaint with the burger was the greasiness. Yes, I know. It's a burger, and there's going to be grease. But with the bacon and fried onion rings together, there was a lot. I think absorbing some of that grease with paper towels before putting the bacon and onions on the burger would have helped.
My fiance scarfed down his Smokehouse BLT Burger and said he liked the barbeque sauce, so it looked like his was good as well. My side salad came out early as an appetizer and was a pretty good size. The fries my fiance got on the side were crispy and yummy, but perhaps a bit too salty (after they were all gone a little pile of salt still remained).
We also ordered the brownie sundae for dessert. The classic combo of warm brownie, creamy vanilla ice cream and whipped cream topped with a cherry and chocolate sauce was a hit. The brownie was perfectly gooey and it all melted in your mouth.
The bill: Two burgers, a dessert and a beer came to just over $25. The burgers are priced reasonably; all under $9, except for "The Runner Burger," which is $11.95 and contains two patties. If you want to be (kind of) health-conscious and economical, I would recommend ordering a side salad with your burger or sandwich. It's a pretty decent size, and unlike most restaurants, Moonrunners doesn't charge extra for it.
The service: Our food came out quickly and our waitress checked in on us often, but not enough to be considered "hovering." Granted, we were the only customers, so I can't say how the service is during busy hours, but I thought the service was good and our waitress was friendly.
The verdict: Bar Rescue seems to have done the trick. As a south Raleigh/Garner resident who never wanted to revisit Characters Quarters, I think Moonrunners now deserves a place in my restaurant rotation. The relaxed atmosphere and reasonably-priced food make it a good place to grab a drink and hang out with friends.