Restaurant Review – The Pub in Pennsauken, NJ (Redux)

This past weekend my Dad celebrated his 39th birthday. Yes, the man fathered and raised me and yet he’s younger than I am…so he claims. Maybe he’s got some Benjamin Button thing going on. At any rate, he invited me along with a group of friends to celebrate at The Pub in Pennsauken. I’ve had numerous great dining experiences there. How could I possibly resist? Oh, and it was his birthday.

Diners received unlimited access to the salad bar with dinner, in addition to complimentary bread. For those into salad bars: The Pub set the gold standard. In addition to a delicious Caesar Salad, I added some cottage cheese and carrots to my plate. They prepared the later with raisins. I never would’ve thought to combine a fruit and a vegetable in this way. It tasted outstanding. I would’ve returned for more, but we also ordered appetizers.

Since our party consisted of six people, we ordered two of them. We got the French Fried Zucchini and the Fried Fresh Mushrooms. (The both cost $5.50 respectively.) They could’ve served as meals in themselves. I’ve had Fried Mushrooms at various pizza places over the years. I’d rank The Pub’s as the best. The mushrooms tasted unexpectedly fresh. I even ate them without the sauce and found them savory. I give the chef a lot of credit: he made something as bland as mushrooms flavorful. I had seconds on the zucchini. My dining companions raved about their quality, also.

Then our server brought out our dinners. All the food on the table reminded me of the Feast of Trimalchio scene in Fellini’s Satyricon.  Several in my group ordered the Prime Rib. While it came in at a hefty $29.99, both the portion and quality justified the price. When placed on the table it reminded me of the Ol’ 96er in the John Candy/Dan Aykroyd film The Great Outdoors. Unlike Candy’s character, no one finished this hunk of meat. For the record, my dog did finish off the leftovers. She’s a fussy eater, too.

There’s an old saw that whenever you dine at a steakhouse, someone always orders seafood. That person is usually me. So why buck tradition? I ordered the Hot Seafood Platter. The menu described it as, “Golden brown fried gulf shrimp, seafood salad, broiled fish of the day, deviled clam, tender bay scallops and shrimp stuffed with crabmeat.” It also come with a steep price tag at $29.99. Still, the only word that adequately described this meal was awesome.  When looking at the plate I worried that the population of the world’s oceans must have dipped a few per cent since I ordered it. The portions and quality, again, were phenomenal. I thought the seafood salad a nice addition. I’ve never had a seafood combo that included one. I give The Pub kudos for creativity on this one, also.

I’ve often written that I like it when customers can view the kitchen. The Pub took this to another level. They kept the lights low in the dining area. As one would expect, they illuminated the kitchen is more brightly. In spite of the main dining room’s size, one’s eyes became drawn to the kitchen. The management wanted customers to watch their food prepared. I thought that a very nice touch.

The Pub’s website reads, “Everything extravagant except the prices.” While I do find their prices higher than most, the quality and the portions justify them. Thanks to the quantities even my dog got to share in the quality fare: and she’s a tougher critic than I am. After my latest experience at The Pub, I can’t wait until my Dad’s 40th birthday party.

Restaurant Review – The Pub in Pennsauken, NJ

The coats of arms on the walls made me feel as though dining in a castle during the Middle Ages. When first seated I wondered if I’d be sent to the dungeon if I displeased the staff. Fortunately, the crew at the Pub didn’t feel the need to torture me. They did, however, go medieval on my wallet.

The company uses the slogan, “Everything Extravagant Except the Prices.” I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree on that one. I also found it interesting that line appears on their web site, yet it doesn’t show any of their prices. I had to make a decision as to whether I wanted to order sea food, or if I wanted to have enough money to buy groceries for the rest of the week. This call turned out to be much easier than I thought. I love Italian and like chicken. I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana.

The $18.99 price tag was a bit higher than what I’m accustomed to paying for Chicken Parmigiana. To be fair, it also included unlimited access to the Pub’s legendary salad bar. I helped myself to both the regular and Caesar Salads. I also sampled the Three Bean Salad. All tasted freshly prepared and excellent. While I didn’t try it myself, a woman in my party complimented the apple sauce’s “chunky” texture.

As pricey as I thought the meal, I can’t complain I didn’t get my money’s worth. It came on a huge plate; at least I’m assuming they served it on a plate. The monumental quantity of food served obscured the dish. The meal had a sweet taste to it; almost as though the chef prepared it in some kind of syrup. While different, I enjoyed it. It should go without saying that I couldn’t finish this helping.

The server displayed outstanding customer service when she personally boxed up my meal for me. I’ve haven’t had a server do that in years. Mine also boxed up another gentleman in my party’s meal as well.

I went to the Pub with a group of 20 people. The staff accommodated us without any trouble. They set aside three tables for us so everyone had plenty of room. As we attended on a Saturday night the building became very crowded. With that noted, I didn’t have any trouble getting through the main dining room to the salad bar and back. I didn’t worry about bumping into anyone or accidentally spilling anything on unsuspecting diners. I give the management great credit for the layout.

My trip to the Men’s Room made me very uncomfortable. The Pub is the only establishment I’ve ever dined at that employs a Men’s Room Attendant. I don’t understand why. In an era with motion activated hand dryers I don’t see the need for someone to hand me a towel after I wash my hands. While I tipped the gentleman, I viewed the tip dish a cheap means of pressuring me to pay for having to use the facilities. Overall, I just find the idea of someone just sitting in the rest room while patrons answer nature’s call rather weird.

Another issue I had concerned the menu itself. They offered a sea food dish specifically described as “for two.” As it cost over sixty dollars, that didn’t sound totally out of the ballpark for fish. It confused me because directly across from it the menu stated “No Sharing”. I wondered: if they can’t write the menu properly, are they going to be able to get my group’s orders straight? On the later we had no issues.

While pricey, The Pub does offer quality meals. They serve much larger portions than I typically see at other restaurants. In essence, customers receive more than one meal out of the order. Between that and the salad bar, people do get their money’s worth. Just be prepared to cash in your 401(k) before walking in there.