PULASKI Located on Route 11 between Sandy Creek and Pulaski, 11 North Bar & Grill doesnt look like much from the outside.
It appears to be an old, rundown house with a hodgepodge of additions. The siding consists of cedar shakes that look like theyve been painted with that gray paint you put on a cellar floor.
The interior is another story. The bar/lounge area has been updated with lots of knotty pine. The tabletops look like theyre made from huge tree trunks, big slabs of wood with a gloss finish. Its clean and rustic-looking.
If youre a fan of guitars, theyve got a collection of Fender and Washburn beer logo solid body electrics lining one wall. There are several flat-screen TVs in the bar area and a pool table in an adjacent room.
There was one bartender on duty, doubling as a server. The lunch crowd was pretty sparse, so she was able to handle both chores without a problem.
The menu is quite extensive for a little out-of-the-way place. Deep-fried starters, wings, soups, chili, salads, burgers, pizzas, hot and cold sandwiches, subs and wraps, and for the evening crowd, a dozen fish, meat and pasta dishes.
It took us a few minutes to digest the lunch menu, so to speak. We spotted a gem hidden in the fried food area, simply listed as portobello mushrooms ($7.50).
A quick quiz of our server revealed that its a large portobello mushroom topped with roasted red peppers and melted Swiss cheese. Bring it on!
We knew it had to be made from scratch (as opposed to the rest of the freezer-to-fryer starters). The large mushroom cap was quickly broiled, then topped with diced roasted red peppers and a good amount of Swiss, then back under the broiler until the cheese reached its gooey goodness. It was quite tasty.
We noticed a prime rib sandwich special on the board when we entered. That usually means theres leftover prime rib in the kitchen that needs to be used up. So we figured the soup of the day, vegetable beef ($3/cup), was probably a product of the excess rib-eye, so we went for it.
Lots of beef, but light on the veggies a few cut up string beans, some diced potatoes in a broth that could have used some more beef base. Actually, the addition of some carrots, celery and onion (mirepoix) in the stock would have helped a lot.
French onion soup ($3.50/cup) was good, also homemade, we assumed. Again, the broth was a little weak, but we were impressed that they offer French onion in a cup portion most places only offer it in one size, a standard crock. And they dressed it up in full battle garb, the cup being finished off with the traditional crouton and golden melted cheese on top.
With such a wide selection of sandwiches, it was difficult to choose. We decided on a Philly cheesesteak, a Yuengling-battered haddock sandwich and a teriyaki chicken wrap, all priced at $9.50, as are the majority of their sandwich offerings.
The Philly was good, as we expected it to be. We found out that the husband and wife owners are originally from the Philadelphia, Pa., area where the now famous Philly cheesesteak originated back in the 1930s.
Its made with shaved rib-eye, sautéed onions and green peppers, and occasionally mushrooms and melted American cheese. This version was quite authentic, right down to the Amoroso roll.
Amoroso is a bakery in Philadelphia that has been in business since 1904. It is considered the standard for a good Philly. Local restaurant supplier Renzi Brothers Inc. in Watertown supplies 11 North with the Amoroso rolls.
What cheese to use on a Philly is another cause for debate. American and provolone are most popular, but some say that Cheez Whiz is used in Philadelphia restaurants that make authentic cheesesteaks.
Bottom line, the cheesesteak we had was mighty tasty, the roll was big and the fillings were plentiful. The cheese had disappeared by the time the sandwich arrived at the table from the heat of the meat, but the taste was still there.
The Yuengling-battered haddock also was served on an Amoroso roll. The batter was very good, light and crispy. The fish was cooked just right, resulting in a flaky interior. It was presented with lettuce on the roll, with tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon on the side.
The teriyaki chicken wrap was a real winner. They diced up grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, green peppers and grilled onions, threw in some shredded Swiss, hit it with a not-too-salty teriyaki sauce and rolled it all up in a wrap.
A little messy to eat, but what great flavors!
Deep-fried thick-cut potato chips came standard with the sandwiches, a crisp and tasty product. Traditional french fries can be substituted for an additional $2.50.
There are no homemade desserts, our server confessed to us. She listed the commercial products that they offer, but we decided not to order dessert. We were pretty full at that point, anyway.
Lunch for three came to $52.92 before tip.
Our server was pleasant and helpful, refilling our beverages several times. She delivered our food at a relaxed pace.
For future reference, the beer list is quite extensive, with over 30 beers, mostly familiar domestics. The wine selection is more limited, with Barefoot being the most recognizable offering.
During the winter, 11 North Bar & Grill is a popular snowmobile stop. Hopefully fishermen and locals will continue to support this out-of-the-way restaurant in the warmer months. They offer live music most weekends.
The landmark for the restaurant is the sprawling F.X. Caprara Ford dealership north of Pulaski on Route 11. The restaurant is a stones throw from there.
In last weeks review of Tailwater Lodge, we noted that the restaurant was closed on Saturday. That is incorrect. It is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday as well as Friday, and from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Walter Siebel has been part of the Northern New York restaurant scene for more than three decades, cooking in restaurants from casual Adirondack eateries to fine-dining establishments, and lending his culinary talents to numerous charity events. You can contact him at email@example.com.
11 North Bar & Grill
5233 Route 11
An out-of-the-way bar/restaurant with an extensive menu that includes pizza and wings, soups and salads, burgers, sandwiches, subs and wraps, and for the evening crowd, a dozen fish, meat and pasta dishes.
HOURS: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday
Noon to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
Nnoon to midnight Friday
11 a.m. to midnight Saturday
Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
OUR PICKS: Portobello mushroom with roasted red peppers and melted Swiss, Philly cheesesteak, Yuengling-battered haddock sandwich, teriyaki chicken wrap