Recently opened Baba’s Eats & Ales is a family friendly pub, with burgers, wings, salads and even a couple of vegetarian hot dishes. Non-sandwich entrees are available after 4 p.m., perfect for an early dinner visit with friends.
We began with orders of beer cheese soup ($3.49 cup), Brussels sprouts ($6.99) and calamari ($9.99). The beer cheese had great flavor, but the cup served was the same dipping cheese provided with waffle fries, etc. It was thick enough to hold a spoon upright. Would be great with a soft pretzel, but it’s definitely not soup.
The sprouts were roasted whole then deep fried, served with a sambal oelek aioli. Though a bit bland on their own, they were nicely crispy and pretty great with the mildly spicy sauce. The buttermilk-soaked squid strips were lightly fried in a dusting of seasoned flour. Dunked in spicy house marinara sauce, they were a tender delight.
Everything on the “kids under 12” menu is $6.99 with a choice of sides. Our two young dining companions chose mac and cheese and spaghetti with marinara, both with housemade kettle chips. The mac and its sauce were bland and quite soupy; a bemusing turn after the beer cheese pudding. The spaghetti was basic, with that same spicy marinara. The chips, though, were perhaps the best housemade example I’ve had—light, thin, crispy, well-seasoned and perfect. I’ve had my share of fair-to-middlin’ examples, but these easily hit the “you can’t eat just one” mark. I’m glad the boys were willing to share.
It wouldn’t be a pub without fish and chips ($13.99), and three giant planks of IPA-battered cod were served with a large basket of hand-cut fries and house coleslaw. The fries were good, and the slaw was tangy with a hint of heat. However, the star trio was a complement of not-so-impressive, very dry samples of whitefish ensconced in a whole lot of over-fried batter. Based on the dark color and oil soak, I’d guess the fryer temp was a bit low, and the fish stayed in too long.
Growing up, liver and onions ($15.99) seemed like something old folks ate at greasy spoon diners, a “punishment meal” that adults pretend to love. But with applewood-smoked bacon, sauteed onion, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies, it sounded like something I could embrace in my November years. The spuds were perfect lumpy comfort, the brown gravy adequate and the sauteed veg was a very tasty, plentiful mix. The seasoning and overall flavor of the dish was astoundingly good. Unfortunately, this thin slice of offal had been rendered incredibly well done, very tough to saw and chew through. A lot less time on the grill and this flavor combo could make me a convert.
Continuing the overcooking theme was a stuffed and smothered, bone-in pork chop ($14.99), served with the same spuds and veg. The mushroom gravy included whole button ’shrooms and plenty of flavor. The caramelized herb and onion stuffing was fantastic, but the meat was extremely dry and a little tough to cut with a steak knife. As with the liver, close but no cigar.
The boys shared a pair of sundaes with us ($3.99 each)—lone with salted caramel shortbread and the other with chocolate brownie. It was a sweet end to a meal that held promise but could have used some work.