Jun 23, 2011

A Commoner Reviews Bardog Tavern

I thought I’d start picking up some loose ends and cover items I hadn’t found room for in earlier blogs.  I also wanted to start a series of reviews of certain dives, restaurants, etc., I’ve visited recently.  First on that list is the Bardog Tavern in downtown Memphis, Tenn.

I’ve been to Memphis several times, but I hadn’t heard of the Bardog until I began researching for new places to go during the Beale Street Music Festival earlier this year. Even though I’m a commoner, I can’t help but want to try something new with every visit to a favorite town.   Sure enough, Bardog has only been in business since September 2008, but one thing that appealed to me is it looks like it’s been a downtown institution forever.  It’s on Monroe Avenue, just a block or so off the Main Street trolley line, so it’s easy walking from anywhere downtown. 
But what appealed most to me about the Bardog was the Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, along with $4 bloody marys during brunch – definitely a good deal for any downtown bar.  It apparently also appealed to many of my friends who also frequent Brewhaus and had also descended on Memphis for the festival. 

They came in droves! 
Watch him, folks!  He's a thoroughly dangerous man!
The food did not disappoint.  I ordered my three-egg omelette “loaded” and could not finish it.  It came with an abundance of mushrooms, cheese, peppers and a variety of breakfast meat.  I was also encouraged by the fact that the bartenders made their bloody mary mix from scratch, but be careful for what you ask for. 
The first bloody mary I had was quite tasty, although a little less peppery than I prefer (that’s my Cajun roots talking).  But then our group ordered a second round, which required more bloody mary mix to be made.  Whoever made the second batch was either the world’s greatest fan of horseradish or was trying to punish tourists, because the horseradish overpowered the rest of the drink.  So, while I credit Bardog for making their bloodys entirely from scratch (which is a rarer and rarer thing anymore), you should probably expect the quality to vary from drink to drink.     
The rest of the menu seemed very intriguing, and I can’t wait to try something else on my return visit.  The choices are somewhat limited but impressively varied.  If I don’t go for brunch next time, I wouldn’t mind trying the spaghetti they boast about on their website.  Plus, in my opinion, you have to love any dive where you can still order a cheap fried egg sandwich.   

About the atmosphere, like most good dives, its décor seemed dark and eclectic.  Like most good Irish bars, the top of the main cabinet is appropriately lined with Jameson bottles likely emptied by the patrons.  I thought having the specials on a chalkboard was a good touch and went well with the overall vibe of the bar.  I also like knowing the prices of what’s on tap up front, and the pints were generous for the price and location.
The bicycle hanging from the ceiling was another nice touch.

All in all, I found Bardog to be a very fun place to hang out, possibly meet some regulars, get some tasty hangover food and take advantage of the brunch specials … especially if you love horseradish.         

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