For those unfamiliar, Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery is a national chain in the “breastaraunt” genre. Scantily clad waitress serve up pub fare. The interior looks like an English pub collided with a TGI Fridays, with pseudo-British adornments on the walls. Kitschy clutter is attached to the wall at ever-so-perfect, off-center angles. Someone took a lot of time to make everything look casually askance. I was reminded of those guys who spend an hour in the mirror, trying to get the perfect version of bedhead before leaving the house.
But the real decorations are the waitresses: adorned in a uniform that’s one-part classic Scottish kilt and three-parts sexy schoolgirl costume. Thigh-baring plaid kilts are the order of the day and are paired with open half shirts that reveal matching plaid pushup bras and bare midriffs. Male employees are bedecked in black kilts with black T-shirts, offering not a glimpse of pectoral or thigh.
Don’t kid yourself: The uniforms on these women make Hooters’ girls look like they’re wearing burkas. I knew I was diving into the deep end of the Tilted Kilt experience as soon I walked through the door and was greeted by a diminutive and cheerful hostess whose uniform couldn’t quite contain one of her areolas.
Undaunted, I moved on to the bar for a drink and a burger. The bar offers a large number of beers—though none out of the ordinary, really. I settled on a barbecue bacon burger with garlic fries. The fries were quite good, with just enough garlic essence to be noticeable but not over powering.
The burger was less memorable. The bun was buttery with a pleasant texture, but the burger went downhill from there. It was covered with a smoky but unremarkable Guinness barbecue sauce and crispy onion straws, which were neither crispy nor cut into straws. But the big disappointment was the bacon. About a quarter of the way through my burger, I realized I couldn’t taste it. I plucked a piece of bacon from the burger and ate it on its own. Even with nothing else in my mouth, the bacon proved largely flavorless. I have no idea how one extracts the taste from a slice of bacon, but some wizard has managed it.
I returned a week later for a second go ‘round; this time for a Butcher’s Block flatbread pizza. This monument to decadence features six weighty slices bedecked with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and mozzarella. The tomato pesto sauce is barely noticeable. Quite frankly, the thick slices of spicy sausage make very little else noticeable. The bacon and pepperoni feel like afterthoughts. As pedestrian pub fare goes, it’s pretty good.
Not caring at all about my waistline or the state of my pulmonary system, I gave dessert a try. The Tilted Brownie Guilt lives up to its decadent description, containing a very pleasant caramel sauce and a surprisingly lively vanilla ice-cream topper. The brownie itself is rich with a fudgy texture. It was definitely the highlight of my Tilted Kilt dining experience.
I’m often critical of chain restaurants, but they do deserve credit for training and customer service. I was looked after by two bartenders who took great pains to keep my drink full and my order timely. It’s easy to dismiss Tilted Kilt as nothing more than an excuse to gawk at pretty girls, but there’s clearly a better-than-average boot camp that goes into molding such an attentive staff. While the waitresses might be required to rock a B-cup or better, they also have to learn a system that benefits the consumer.
It might be fair to say that I’ve spent too much time discussing the waitresses and their uniforms, but the fact remains that sex appeal is what Tilted Kilt is selling—every bit as much as Ruth’s Chris is peddling steak. No responsible writer could or should ignore it. I could write all day about the gender politics of a place like Tilted Kilt, but my criticism would be hypocritical. Every female bartender I’ve ever known has shown off breast or thigh if she could get away with it, and her tips reflected the value of the extra skin. I can hardly complain that restaurants like Tilted Kilt have codified that fashion sense into their own best practices.
You can find elements of the Tilted Kilt business model elsewhere in Wilmington. There are restaurants with better bar food and bars that feature women in a greater state of undress. But I suppose if you’re looking for that perfect mix between the two, then Tilted Kilt is right up your alley.
Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery
11 Van Campen Blvd.
Sun. – Thurs., 11 a.m. to midnight; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.