Restaurant Review – March 2013

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The Angry Penguin Tavern
 A true neighborhood pub

Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 9 • Food  8 • Ambiance  7 • Price – $$

A few years ago, while passing through Waterford to visit family, my husband and I noticed a change at Kielty’s Emerald Isle pub and shared a smile as we read the sign out loud. “The Angry Penguin”? Intrigued, we told ourselves this should be on our “need to visit” list, even if only to have a beer at the fun namesake.

On a rainy Tuesday evening, the door to the Angry Penguin Tavern, complete with a large silhouette of an arctic bird, finally welcomed us. As my husband and I stepped into the small pub, I was worried it was not open. The expansive oak bar had one patron sitting at the very end sipping a beer and a cup of soup. To our left, two women were seated at a table in the small dining room near a cozy wood-burning stove deep in conversation. As we pulled up two seats at the bar, we were greeted with a warm smile and friendly hello from the owner, Sandy, who was tending bar, serving and being hostess. 

As the evening’s menus were handed to us, we learned that a substitute chef was on duty and wings and other menu items would not be available.  The disappointment of hearing this news quickly abated at the sight of the variety of beers on tap! Not just any beer, but in my opinion, good beer. I settled on a Smutty Nose Brown Ale, rich in caramel flavor ($5) and my husband chose the Otter Creek Black IPA, which looked like a stout in color, yet stayed true to the hop flavor ($5). Both pints were delicious and hit the spot.

Since wings were out, we opted to try an appetizer from the specials menu – BBQ Chicken Flat Bread ($8). Sandy placed our order and allowed ample time for us to peruse the menu for our dinner selections, which also allowed us time to strike up small talk with the fella a few seats away. Before we knew it, our appetizer arrived. The pizza was small, but perfect for a first course and quite tasty. Covered in big chunks of chicken, green peppers, bacon, onion, cheddar-jack and mozzarella cheese set on top of a BBQ Béchamel sauce – it was delightful. The sauce was a bit smoky-sweet and complemented the other flavors extremely well.

It was hard to choose our main course as all the options sounded great. My husband settled on the Turkey Reubenesque ($8) and I went with the Fish n’ Chips ($14). The turkey Reuben rivaled its corned beef cousin; meat to slaw to cheese ratio was perfect and it was served with homemade macaroni salad. The Fish and Chips was dipped in a beer batter and fried to perfection. As I am watching my amount of fried food intake, I took a healthy first bite complete with batter and fish, but the remainder of the meal I dug out the light and fluffy fish and enjoyed it plain. The accompanying fries were also cooked crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside and I found myself swatting at a hand helping itself from the next seat over.

We soon received a text from our two teens, who when asked, did not want to go out to eat with us, but were now starving and wanted food. Being the nice parents we are, we placed a to-go order for the Smoke House Burger ($7) complete with BBQ sauce and American cheese and for our vegetarian eater, the Angry Nachos ($10) which are exactly what the menu describes: a mountain of house-made Saratoga Chips topped with smoked black beans, cheddar cheese, banana peppers and sour cream. At first we scoffed at the price tag, but when we opened the box at home, it was huge! The chips were thin and crisp and surprisingly held up to the heavy gooey toppings. I would return just to eat these, they were that good. And even though the price seemed a bit steep, it worked out to really cost nothing as it fed two teens and then three adults the following night for dinner.

The Angry Penguin Tavern is the perfect neighborhood watering hole, where everyone knows your name, maintains a menu full of variety and pub food that is stepped up a notch. They offer nights of music and also host a popular Texas Hold ‘Em night every Thursday. I cannot wait to return and encourage you to also add this quaint pub to your “must visit” list.

The Angry Penguin Tavern is located at 39 Broad Street, Waterford. Hours are: Monday-closed; Tuesday-Thursday noon-1am; Friday-Saturday noon-3am; Sunday noon-8pm. Dinner service starts at 4:30pm. For more information call 237.2829 or visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/the-angry-penguin-tavern.

Kelly Pugliano is freelance writer, photographer and lifelong foodie who shares her love of cooking and baking through photographs good enough to eat on her site www.eatpicks.com. You may also read about life stories, recipes and love of sports on her personal blog www.momgotblog.com. She can be reached at eatpicks@gmail.com
 

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