Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: A Shout-Out to the Hickory Tavern

A few days ago, I received an email about The Hickory Tavern, a bar in Charlotte that has been nominated for ESPN’s “Best Sports Bar in North America”?  Naturally, that piqued my interest, but I never write about a place that I haven’t tried, so I immediately called my husband and asked him if he would like to go try a sports bar that night for a review.  He enthusiastically agreed and we left soon after he came home from work.  There are several locations in Charlotte, and 13 locations around North Carolina and Spartanburg, SC.  We chose Ballentyne for practical reasons, though their next location, opening this fall in the Metropolitan, will be even more convenient. 

From the moment they opened the door to let us in, the Hickory Tavern staff were terrific.  The service was quick and the conversation was friendly.  In short, just what you want from a restaurant staff when you head out to watch the game. And you can certainly watch the game.  Hickory Tavern provides a generously spaced room with televisions surrounding the entire room.  It is clean and easy to watch whatever you want to watch (although we weren’t there on a packed night), and has plenty of entertainment for fans of all sport.

One thing that interested me most about Hickory Tavern was how kid friendly it was.  A nice big space, they have a wide selection on their kids menu that will appeal to even the most picky child.  Most kids meals ran around $5-$6.  Mine chose the chicken quesadilla and a side of mandarin oranges. The quesadilla is absolutely terrific: I may have to get that for myself next time (it is, thankfully, on the adult menu)!

We adults started with the thick-cut Tavern potato chips, the perfect appetizer.  They are served with “Mexi-Ranch dressing”, which reminded me of one of my favorite bar selections in Australia: chips (fries) and sweet chili sour cream.  There are plenty of other classic bar appetizers to choose from, like nachos, cheese sticks and chili to oysters and seared Ahi tuna. 

Both of us were in a hamburger sort of mood.  I chose the Hickory BBQ burger (applewood smoked bacon, jack and cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, BBQ sauce), while my husband went for the California burger (pepper jack, avocado, sautéed mushrooms, thousand island dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, onions).  We both ordered slightly pink, and were disappointed at how slightly “slightly” was (a function of regulations, not the bar).  The burger is enormous; we would have preferred more appetizers and a smaller main course, especially if we had been there long enough to watch a game.  I chose the vegetable of the day (zucchini and summer squash) as my side, while my husband went for the classic French fries.  Both were good, mine were better the next day.  I would have gone with the crab legs, but unfortunately they are not available this year.  I have to give them credit for not serving poor quality seafood, but I think the shrimp and grits are next on my list.

We were pleased with the beer selection, which is, like many good bars in Charlotte, quite extensive.  I ordered their “Discovery Beer of the Month”, the Chimay White Triple, and was surprised when I got the whole bottle (before I’ve only had a glass).  We happily split it – both of us are fans of Chimay anyway. 

And then there was dessert.  We went for the brownie sundae, our favorite family dessert, and it was great.  I enjoy chocolate chips in my brownie, and so often they are left out of restaurant brownies, but not here.  This was my son’s introduction to brownie sundaes, it did not disappoint. 

We had a great time, and we plan to support this North Carolina establishment, and vote for them every day until Monday.  If you want to vote for them, head to The Hickory Tavern website and click “Vote Here”.  If they win, they and their patrons will get a “Monday Night Football viewing experience” with ESPN.  Voting is open until 10AM on Monday, August 29.

In short, if you are looking for a great bar with good food to go watch that game.  Whatever game that is, Hickory Tavern is the place for you.  You can go with the boys, the girls, or even your family, for lunch or dinner and be assured of a good time.


The Hickory Tavern – Ballantyne location
12210 Copper Way, Suite 212
Charlotte, NC 28277

Hickory Tavern on Urbanspoon

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