Lunch, Dinner, Bar Scene
How to save some cash: Grab a $25 or $50 Restaurant.com giftcard. It won’t work during happy hour, but you can use it on drinks later in the night. So, buy a round for the bar if you’re having trouble hitting the minimum.
Your typical pub serves food only because they are required to by law if they want to serve alcohol. As a result, it does the bare minium to call themselves a restaurant but no more (think frozen mozzarella sticks, generic chicken wings, bagged greasy potato chips, etc.). Well, after spending nearly two and a half hours eating and drinking with a bunch of friends at the Chucktown Tavern, I can say this isn’t your typical bar.
The chef/co-owner/number one patron made sure to tell us that she’s been cooking for many years for her family and has never served them a crappy meal and that she didn’t intend to start tonight.
First up, a hearty helping of the BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS ($4.95). Now, we’ve all had onion rings before and it’s easy to spot the rubbery, frozen impostors compared to the real things, but these were nothing like that. Clearly from hand cut onions, they are breaded in a beer-batter that leaves them tasting light and sweet. Good start to a meal.
We ordered the NACHO SUPREME ($9.95) as an appetizer but it was really under the “light side” of the menu. They must have had a few when making the menu because there was nothing “light” about this giant mound of chips, chili, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, black olives, sour cream and salsa. The ground beef chili was delicious and was yet another indication that everything is made fresh in the kitchen.
Although we didn’t order them, our server brought us the SHRIMP -n- GRITS CAKES on the house and they were by far the biggest hit at our table. They were lightly fried (but that has to be getting redundant by now–I mean, we’re at a bar after all), making a nice crispy outside with a scorching hot center. The breading had a very good flavor with a subtle spice. Think crab cake with a twist.
Our server said that the stuffed burgers are by far the best thing on the menu, so we felt we had to give them a shot. I went with the FORT MOULTRIE PALMETTO PIMENTO ($10.95) which is a mouthful in itself. It is 1/2 pound Angus beef patty stuffed with homemade pimento cheese and jalapeños. They say they can cook it any way you like as the quality of the beef supports that, but I found that my order of medium arrived much closer to well done than anything. Overall, the burger was better than most you’ll find on the peninsula, but I wouldn’t consider it worth $10.95. But then again, I might just be spoiled from just having been to 39 Rue de Jean where the burgers are the same price but boast a whole new category of deliciousness.
We also tried THE ITALIAN JOB, another stuffed burger, this time with mozzarella cheese and pepperonis. A mix of pizza and hamburger? I’ll take it. After my impulsive decision to try a food that mixed two delicious genres, I was admittedly concerned that the real thing might not meet my expectations. When it arrived, the spicy pepperonis were in fact a nice addition, but not as intriguing or shocking and I’d thought they might be. Bottom line: a nice alternative but no jaw-dropping difference from your typical burger.
We had a few friends that arrived late and almost missed the 9:00pm closing of the kitchen, which is strategically timed with the 9:01pm kickoff of karaoke (fear not, this is a nightly occurrence so you haven’t missed it). I mean, if the kitchen were still open, how in the world would the other chef/co-owner (who I presume to be the husband of the chef) be there to jump start the karaoke with a Trace Atkins hit? While we didn’t partake in the festivities on this trip, we assured him we’d be back as long as he downloaded a few more Michael Bolton hits (“When a Man Loves a Woman” isn’t to going sing itself, ya know).
If you’re looking for a good, friendly, neighborhood bar to catch up with friends and have a few drinks, Chucktown Tavern might just be your place. Don’t go expecting any fancy culinary masterpieces but rather some good ole-fashioned quality home cooking.