It had been just over five years since I’d last visited the Stubborn Mule, one of the more durable restaurants to occupy a space in the Sanctuary condominium complex in downtown’s Thornton Park. So when wanted to find a nice outdoor space to dine with friends recently, I thought it might be time to go back. I mean, there was no reason to be stubborn about returning.
The menu has changed over the years, I think for the better. For one thing, it’s been pared down a bit and has gotten rid of extraneous items, such as the flatbreads.
Burgers are still a forte. One of my companions ordered a medium-rare burger that was prepared spot on. It was a sizable patty that was not dwarfed by the ample brioche bun and was accompanied by a leafy bit of lettuce and a couple of pickles. Notably, the price of the burger had only increased about a dollar or so since SM opened, but I noticed the side order of fries had shrunk a bit. (Good fries, by the way.)
I chose the chipotle cheesesteak and still can’t figure why it was called that – you’d think there might be some spicy notes, but no. Here, the chopped ribeye meat was subsumed into the pillowy hoagie roll and it was all glopped over by what the menu called gruyere cheese fondue, basically a mornay sauce that ultimately was too floury. For my side I had the sweet potato tots because I couldn’t recall every having totted sweet potatoes before. Then again, maybe I just forgot.
My other companions enjoyed the steak tip tacos, served in grilled flour tortillas with cotija cheese and leafy greens instead of the more usual chopped iceberg.
And a salad called The Coop, which has no relation to the Winter Park restaurant of the same name. It was a colorful array of green lettuce and edamame beans, red tomatoes, yellow corn kernels and boiled egg quarters topped by grilled and sliced chicken breast.
The wraparound patio provided just the sort of dining venue we were looking for, especially when it started to drizzle and we were able to relocate under an overhang.