SANDWICH – Most of us that are of age have been there: You get to the bar, you look to see what's on tap and it occurs to you that you haven't really eaten anything all day. So you may try to find the perfect snack to go with your drink – as is tradition – and you may even solicit your server for some snack recommendations.
But you know, I learned something today: Always listen to your server's modification suggestions when it comes to bar comfort food.
"South Park" television show references were among the enjoyment of hanging out at Route 34 Pub & Grub, 1201 E. Church St., Sandwich.
For starters, we took our server's recommendation and had the cheesy poofs, which are six deep-fried homemade dough balls with mozzarella cheese stuffed inside, along with a choice of dipping sauce – the more common one being a side of marinara sauce. Our server specifically advised us to add bacon as a stuffing, to have the dough balls glazed with garlic butter and to get ranch dressing on the side. We did exactly that, but we also added the side of marinara sauce for comparison.
With the side of ranch especially, it was a choice savory bar snack and just as satisfying as you would think – it's basically the equivocal definition of comfort food. My guest and I not only regretted nothing by eating each and every poof with glee and could've been happy with just these, but we even told our server that we now trusted their judgment for the rest of our stay and joked that we would even seek them out for tax advice with how delicious these poofs were. Ten out of 10, we would recommend if you have a functioning gallbladder and can pursue such a snack with reckless abandon.
My guest ended up ordering the "You Killed Kenny!!!!" (four exclamation points and all) half-pound Cajun-spiced burger, cooked medium, which included jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and a side of Tabasco mayonnaise. They said the burger was cooked nicely and the Tabasco mayo added a nice kick to the sandwich, and the burger was easy to eat and not too greasy. On a scale of 1 to 10 for spiciness, the verdict was between 6 and 7.
The burger also came with french fries, which were also solid. They weren't exceptionally crunchy, but they weren't too soft, nor were they too salty.
Which reminds me: Dietary restriction-conscious fam, Route 34 Pub & Grub fries their food with soybean oil. Waitstaff was very accommodating and willing to find answers to questions such as whether the kitchen uses peanut products of any kind.
It's also worth noting that we really enjoyed the "South Park" and "Family Guy" references peppered throughout this establishment's menu – so much so that my guest kept singing "I love cheesy poofs, you love cheesy poofs" during our meal, and we giggled at the "Boom Goes the Dynamite Tots" and "The Quagmire" sandwich.
Anyway, back to the food we did ultimately order: I selected the 12-inch Veggie Delight, which ordinarily includes green and black olives, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and tomatoes. I personally went without the onions and mushrooms, but added garlic.
Overall, the pizza was delicious. The thin crust was just crunchy enough where the leftovers didn't get too soggy after a couple of days, but it wasn't too crunchy where it was basically burnt. There was a typical amount of cheese and there was a decent amount of Italian seasoning. Whether you're in the hot pizza or cold pizza camp, this pizza does just fine either way.
"South Park" enthusiasts and casual bargoers alike, we definitely would recommend the Route 34 Pub & Grub, especially for a drink and cheesy poofs to be shared among friends – or maybe just an order of cheesy poofs for yourself after a long day.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Daily Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Route 34 Pub and Grub
WHERE: 1201 E. Church St., Sandwich
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
INFORMATION: Call 815-786-3861 or rt34pub.com