Arthur’s in Hyde Park has always been the quintessential neighborhood bar, especially for people who don’t live in the neighborhood. So when I heard it had a new winter menu, I had to check it out.
We strolled in on a Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. and the place was packed with people in semi-trance states, absorbed by beer and the Bengals. Miraculously, we managed to grab a table. It was my third time at Arthur’s that week, only because every time I’d met a friend for drinks or dinner, they’d said, “I’d really like to go to Arthur’s.”
But I still wasn’t tired of it. When I lived in Hyde Park years ago, I used to go to Arthur’s at least twice a week. In fact, I’m guessing that about a quarter of my entry-level communications job salary in those days went to Arthur’s. The rest of it I probably wasted.
Apparently, there are a lot of Arthur’s regulars who feel the same way. There’s a mural with a bunch of the caricatures that were once featured on the walls. I don’t know if any of them are still on the walls, but I swear there are a couple of men that sit at the end of the bar that have been there since at least 2002.
Service on Sunday was a bit slow, but the place was packed and it was hard to move through the crowded-together tables.
We had a new server (I only know this because there were a few basic questions about the menu — which I have embarrassingly memorized — that she couldn’t answer). First, my friend, appropriately named Michael (as in, “He likes it! Hey Mikey!”), has very specific food requirements. When I told him he had to order from “Winter Features,” a menu of only six items, he sighed heavily and went for the Pesto Pizza ($8.50), but he wanted to substitute different cheese for the goat cheese. The server said Arthur’s didn’t have any other pizza cheese and that she knew of no replacement except for slices of provolone. But, of course, on page two of Arthur’s menu, under Appetizers — the second one down, I believe? — is the Spinach Pizza with several different types of cheese. I asked her to substitute one of these and she did.
I ordered the Hyde Park Hot Brown ($8.50), an open-faced turkey sandwich layered with tomato, spinach, and bacon, topped with homemade cheese sauce and baked. Diet food, clearly. This won out over the Chicken-n-Biscuits and Shrimp Po Boy, which also sounded tempting.
Our meals came out 20 minutes later, extremely hot. In fact, I burned my tongue biting into the sandwich. But I’m not complaining. Can you really complain when your food comes out “too hot” in a restaurant? It’s like complaining that it’s too flavorful or that your date is too beautiful. It was the perfect comfort food — savory turkey, crisp bacon and a gooey mess of cheese and bread. The pizza was also pretty good, a pita crust with fresh basil pesto (not overwhelming), baby spinach and black olives. I’m never crazy about a pita crust and would like to have tried it with the goat cheese, but maybe next time.
The important thing is, Mikey liked it.
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