A word to the wise: When you go visit a neighborhood tavern known for its cheeseburgers and wings, that’s probably what you should order. My recent trek to Wooster Tavern is a case in point.
Ready to enjoy a meal out without the kiddos, my husband and I easily found Wooster Tavern (a.k.a. WooTav to the locals) tucked neatly between Mariemont and Fairfax. The building resembled a remodeled house from the outside and parking looked like it could be tricky, but we were relieved to find ample spaces behind the building. Perhaps too much available parking for 7 p.m. on a Saturday, but it was Halloween, so maybe the crowd was late that night.
The sports bar atmosphere inside reinforced the “local favorite” image I had begun to conjure. The bar was both warm and welcoming on a chilly autumn night.
As we took in the all the big screens, we chose a seat and were immediately greeted by a pleasant waitress dressed as a cat. She quickly plunked down menus and disappeared to the kitchen to pick up an order called out by the cook.
Our friendly feline server reappeared to take our drink order. I inquired about their selection of draft beers and was surprised to learn they had more than domestic varietals on tap. We each ordered a brew (Sam Adams and Stella Artois, $4.75 each) and I made a hasty selection from the appetizer menu, as our kitty seemed to be in quite a rush. The good news was that our beer arrived quickly and was refreshing, even though it was not served with the head one hopes for on a Stella.
The appetizer selections I breezed through were standard pub fare: nachos, Buffalo wings, onion rings. Always looking to sample something different, the Tavern Oysters (deep fried goetta patties with honey mustard dressing, $6.99) caught my attention. They were brought to the table with lightning speed and were sizzling hot after a bath in the fry daddy.
The positives about this dish end there, as the content was not easily discernable as actual goetta. Our server said they serve Covington’s favorite goetta, Glier’s, but the heavy, grease-laden breading overpowered the meat, making it impossible to enjoy the trademark flavors.
One disappointment does not the dining experience make, so I shook it off and eagerly dipped into my House Salad with Cusabi (cucumber wasabi) dressing while my husband sampled his bowl of chili.
My salad consisted of iceberg lettuce with shredded cheddar and massive croutons.
And the chili? Well, if you like Campbell’s tomato soup, then I have just the chili for you! Bland and flavorless, no amount of shredded cheese and sour cream piled on top could make up for what was missing in the bowl.
For dinner I had the 7-inch Tavern Pizza ($8.49). A house specialty, it is a thin, chewy crust pizza with the homemade ranch dressing used as the base sauce. Toppings of chicken, bacon, black olives and jalapenos rounded out the pie. The pizza was ok, but I probably would not order it again. Husband had the Miguelitto Burrito, which was decent although maybe a little pricey at $9.99.
Picture a ginormous flour burrito, stuffed with what had to be a full pound of shredded chicken, bathed in a sweet barbeque sauce and served with a side of ho-hum tortilla chips.
I definitely think WooTav has potential and plan to stop back for another go ’round on a Tuesday to experience “Burger Madness” for discount burgers with all the extra toppings you want on the house. (DD)
Some Times You Wanna Go Where Everybody Blesses You When You Sneeze
Last Saturday night, a good friend and I headed to Wooster Tavern for the pizza because it’s gotten a reputation. The UC football game was in full swing and we could barely find a parking spot.
We walked in to find it standing-room only.
Granted, it was 10 p.m. on a Saturday night and UC was winning. No one had plans to leave anytime soon.
We managed to find one table left in the ancillary room that felt a bit tacked on to the rest of the bar. There was a great view of the game on the big screen and our waitress served us right away.
Our drinks came quickly — a Sam Adams ($4.75) and Guinness ($5) draft. We all know how many things can go wrong with a draft — too many times it comes flat and stale from poor pressure and dirty lines. Because it’s a risk, I usually avoid it. But my Sam Adams was fresh and flavorful.
We ordered the small pizza ($6.49) as an appetizer. It came out a speedy 12 minutes later, hot and smothered in cheese, fresh mushrooms and crunchy onions and peppers. (I’m always worried restaurant pizza will feature recycled, old produce, but not Wooster). The crust was light and crispy and we both spent a quiet moment in pizza heaven.
My picky friend ordered the Fish Sandwich ($7.99), which I advised against because he deconstructs the seafood in every restaurant. I ordered the Shroomarito ($9) with plenty of cheese, mushrooms and salsa. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to tomatoes and had to get it without the salsa.
When the Shroomarito came, it didn’t taste as good as I remembered it when I used to order it with the salsa. I found myself wishing for some spices with those mushrooms or some green peppers and onions to add a little kick. My friend thought his Fish Sandwich was fine, although he found it overdone and dry on the edges. I did notice, however, that he ate it all.
Midway through the meal, I had a sneezing attack, probably brought on by crushed red peppers. The table 10 feet away somehow heard me above the din of sports ecstasy and managed to yell a “bless you” my way, and then we joked around for a while.
It occurred to me that this is why you go to Wooster — good pub fare and beer, a warm neighborhood Cheers vibe and a group of folks that will bless you when you sneeze.
Go: 6309 Wooster Pike, Mariemont
Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2:30 a.m. Saturday; and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Entrée Prices: $6.49-$13
Payment: Most major credit cards
Red Meat Alternatives: Plenty
Accessibility: Fully accessible