Word of mouth advertising can be a wonderful thing. A few months ago, while having a Jack n' soda on the south side, I overheard Vietnam vet Pat Driscoll chatting with Jay about a new place he was opening up: a little tavern replete with hot, homemade meals for lunch, and high-quality handmade snacks for late-night wanderers.
Seems he and his partners, Bob and Franki Owens, had finally decided to create their own little pub in the heart of Sandfly. Years of saving and planning finally brought their plans to life—and just the right spot had opened up: Behind the new Bi-Lo, on Norwood Avenue.
The menu has many expected bar foods, like jalapeño poppers or burgers in various styles, but the bartender Wendy told us, “There’s nothin’ average about the food here!”
Bob will be happy to chat with you about the food, of which he is justifiably proud.
“I don’t use frozen burgers or dried potato flakes, pre-made wings or poppers—everything here, from the salad dressings to the sauces, are fresh,” he says.
“Our Mozzarella planks are the best in town because we hand-cut and double bread them, then the quick-deep fry produces a perfect texture inside and crispiness outside. Our chicken fingers don’t come from a frozen bag, they’re fresh, sliced by hand and made to order. We have people coming in from downtown to get’em, along with the hand-dipped onion rings!”
My daughter is the big burger fan, so she had the Mushroom Swiss burger, which sounded promising. Bob will tell you, “Those are fresh button mushrooms, sautéed in butter, garlic and Cognac—but I don’t wanna give away all my secrets!”
The burger was juicy, grilled to a fine medium-well, and dripping with melted Swiss; served with the crispy, delicately battered, real onion rings, it’s a memorable dinner.
It’s easy for many places to just throw a handful of frozen stuff into hot oil and hand you a quick basket of fried food to go with your beer. You won’t find that at Norwood Tavern. It may take a little longer for your dishes to arrive, but be assured; they are indeed freshly created for you personally.
One word of warning, do not attempt to bite into a jalapeño popper without letting it cool first—that may sound like just plain good sense, but at 2 a.m. you don’t always have that quality in abundance, especially after a few beers.
I hold no grudges though—the damn thing was amazingly delicious! Do yourself a favor and let’em cool a moment before you dig in.
A special item here is the hot lunches, which Bob and Pat take care to make as good as anything you’d get at your mama’s house (well, my mama’s at least!). At only $6 a pop it’s a steal to pick up a thick, fried pork chop, pulled pork Boston butt, baked ham or lasagna with a rich homemade sauce—each day of the week has its own entrée—and get three country vegetables on the side.
Fridays are popular because of the incredible cheesy potatoes dotted with sour cream and real bacon, and this is the only tavern I’ve seen that serves tender, sweet brussel sprouts done just right. Get in on Saturday morning at 830 a.m. for a tasty breakfast!