This going to be different from our other posts. Usually this blog considers the food first. The places we review lead with their food. All bars or taverns have alcohol, so they need something to set them apart from the rest. The staff and the atmosphere can do it, but staff leaves and ambiance is ever-changing, so a solid hook with the menu is sure to help. Now this is why this post is unique for us. It is all about the joint.
I have been here before to have a glass or buy a bottle. They have a whole wall of wine with every bottle selling for $15 or less. Their glasses go for $6 and flights of wine and port sell for $7. They even offer cocktails. And to set them apart from others they have a menu of sandwiches, salads and meat and cheese platters. What I find compelling about this place is the location. It is right in the middle of Mimi Meatballs ( a joint already reviewed) and Best Chocolates in Town. an artisan candy shop. Now what more could you possibly want?
I am not saying that their food is amazing. I am saying that it is a comfortable place to sip wine and just relax. I ate there today for the first time. Their meat and cheese are not locally sourced but they are more than just good. I ordered a St Andres Triple Cream Brie and some Genoa Salami.
I really enjoy Brie. This triple was really pretty good. I would have preferred it riper and more runny but, still a nice nosh. The Salami was decent. It gave a pretty good bite to balance the creamy cheese. surprisingly the crackers were pretty good as well. A nice crack and they held up to the cheese. They were Nabisco. What can I say. When I ordered my food I told the kid ( sorry, no disrespect but he was 21;and a half) to pick the wine. Be it red or be it white would be fine with me. Then I went next door to get some chocolate.
I know the picture is not too good. I am still trying to learn about this camera.
My server, who has a slight inclination towards red thought I needed a Spanish red. Well I think it worked out pretty well.
Since I have an affinity for bubbles I had to have a couple of glasses of Proseco as desert with the chocolate, after all it was raining. And I had to wait it out since,as per usual I took a bus. I always do when I go downtown; and especially when I plan on having a few glasses of wine.
So I enjoy this little place on Mass Ave. I think you will too.
We have been aware of this place and its reputation for quite some time. People swear by the quality of Hank’s smoked meat. He only offers carry out so we had to pick a nice day. That is the only reason I can come up as to why we were so tardy in coming here. That, and our horrid memories. Today was a beautiful day so we headed to Hank’s.
They have a menu board on the wall, but I messed up the picture. Their sandwiches range from $6.50 to $8.50. Their sides are all $1.80. The brisket is $16 per pound and the smoked corn beef is $17.50. On Urbanspoon there is an older picture of the menu. The brisket prices have gone up since that was taken. Price increase or not the man sure can smoke some beef. And it is definitely butter my butt and call me bread good.
Pat stopped and bought some buns on the way. We got one pound of brisket, one half pound of smoked corned beef and a side of potato salad and coleslaw. Conveniently there is a Dairy Queen next door, so we picked up a couple of chocolate malts. There is also a nice little park about a block away. So we had an old-fashioned picnic.
In a nutshell I don’t know which we liked better. The brisket or the corned beef. The brisket was delicious and had a beautiful bark. I think it was a wee bit better than Squealers. My previous love. As for the corned beef it was truly a taste to remember. I know this is trite and over used but it really did melt in your mouth. A nice texture, indicative of corned meat and just a hint of fat to leave a little gleam on your mouth. The slaw was good but the potato salad was better, I think. Super creamy. A sweet foil to the home-made BBQ sauce.
What is extraordinary is Hank is a self-taught pit master. As I understand it he spent 10 years perfecting his technique through trial and error. Which is, ultimately, the way all smokers learn. Try different ways until you find the one way that floats your boat. In this case Hank certainly has found his way.
Pat and I normally plan our excursions well in advance. This time our decision to go to Irvington was totally spontaneous. The reason I’m putting this in is we have a friend,Jim, who lives in Irvington and works out of his home. Whenever we have lunch in that vicinity we call him and he joins us, This time, since this decision was spur of the moment and I didn’t have my phone with me, and since Pat didn’t have his number-we could not call. So now on to the food.
They have a trendy chic menu of sandwiches,salads and home-made soups. Featuring ham, turkey, different cheeses and sprouts. They also have roast beef which I avoided, thinking it was pre- sliced deli meat. I found out later it might be roasted in-house. Now that is a cow of a different color. Their SOD was creamy chicken and mushroom. We each had a cup and it was wonderful. Thick with chicken and mushrooms in a delicious real heavy cream sauce. The best I have had in quite a while.
Pat had a combo with the aforementioned soup and half a grilled cheese. The sandwich was pretty standard. Thick toast, cheese and tomato. Pretty basic. I on the other hand ordered the most pedestrian sandwich on the menu; a sloppy Joe. What can I say, I’m a Hoosier. I can’t pass up sloppy Joe or meat loaf. The sandwich was good, but it is what it is. Ground beef browned up with peppers and onions with a sweet tomato sauce. You see a sloppy Joe sandwich is like beer. They are all good;just some are better than others.
They don’t serve chips with their sandwiches they serve something they call veggie straws. These are square little tubes in pale green,light red and beige. They don’t have a distinctive flavor. My guess is they are an extruded potato product with vegetable color. Whatever they are they are different and definitely cute. Make paste of cheese or a compound butter and you could make a funky edible log cabin. Oh,one more thing they offer pastries and locally made chocolates. They have a display case up front. I not sure why I didn’t take any pictures. At least of the chocolates. They are turtles and hearts approximately 1-1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. They are made off premise and brought in and painted. That’s right painted in pastel colors. They look like little enameled jewels. Next time I go I am both taking pictures and biting the heads off a few turtles.