WTGW 3/16/16: Foster’s Tavern, Hinckley

Standard

Twas the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and we ended up at … well, not a Irish place. Because it’s not St. Patricks’s Day yet. Try to follow along here kids.

Although when I texted Ted the name of Shane’s pick for this week, his comment was “Fosters? Is that Australian for bar?” Good memory of 90’s alcohol commercials, Ted.

My comment back was that I just hoped it was American for “we have alcohol and good food.”

We really don’t ask for much. I mean, come on.

Anyway, as I mentioned it was Shane’s pick this week, so of course that explains why we’re back in his new favorite town of Hinckley. Because if any of us pick a place there I think he might challenge us to a duel over it, medieval times style. I will say that at least arriving in town during the daylight hours didn’t make it seem quite as scary as the last time we ventured there.Thanks, daylight savings time.

And as long as we’re checking items off the Shane “Must Have” checklist … we also think this place was a house at one time. Seriously, how does he find these places? Its like he plugs variables into a Google search: Is it a house? Is it in Hinckley? Does it get it somewhat questionable reviews? Awesome, I’ll pick it.

Amanda and Jerrid got there first, settled in at a table in the bar and ordered the fried mushrooms as an app. Before we even got there Jerrid was texting Shane pictures of the appetizer. Because it was like $7 for the app, which turned out to be like six mushrooms. Ok, maybe seven – at most. Let’s just say it filled a small appetizer plate, if that tells you anything. And for that price, it makes the mushrooms like a dollar a piece. Now I mean, I’m no vegetable expert or anything, but I’ve seen what a container of mushrooms sells for in the grocery store, and that’s a hell of a markup. Unless the breading made from shredded up $100 bills and gold shavings, which is highly doubtful.

Anyway.

So the first thing I noticed when we arrived at our table was that there was a beer cooler conveniently located directly behind our table – and, more appropriately, my seat at the table. Like an actual refrigerator sized, sliding glass cooler. That actually opened, was unlocked, and functioned as one of two working beer coolers for the bar. Two things about this: 1) seems an odd placement being that far away from the bartender, and 2) so, serve yourself, then? Score!

It's like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

It’s like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

OK, so the server actually did come over and take our beer orders. But at least she didn’t have far to go to bring them over to us. And FYI, Summer Shandy is out already, folks. ‘Tis the season.

Ted got the mussels as an app. Jerrid and Amanda immediately high-fived when he ordered, as they had talked amongst themselves when they saw mussels on the menu that that’s what Ted would choose.

I like that we’ve reached the point in our adventures that we’re running sideboards on the predictability of our menu choices.

Although if those are the rules we’re playing by then I’m slightly disappointed that no one cheered when Shane and I got the cheese sticks. I mean, come on. Something fried with cheese? It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Side note on the cheese sticks: they must use the same breading on those as the mushrooms, because that order was also $7 for like six sticks. I’m seeing a pattern here. Hmm.

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

The mussels were super garlicky. Like more so than the pizza at Brick Oven – which may now be the standard by which we rate all things garlic. You could smell the garlic on the mussels as the dish was being set on the table, and actually see the minced pieces of garlic in the sauce and over the shells. It was honestly a bit much for me – I tried two of them and couldn’t stomach any more.

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Ted, on the other hand, loved them. He ate them up like he hadn’t touched food in about a week and a half. And then stacked the shells very neatly.

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Shane – OK Rain Man, nice job.

But even though Ted was really the only one to consume more than two or four mussels, our vampire-safe status was solidified when the server came back to grab the (what she thought was empty) dish … and proceeded to tip it way too far to one side and cover the table in garlic juice. Because that creates an attractive smell. She apologized profusely while she cleaned it up … although my take on it was that really she just saved all of us from DUIs since if we were to get pulled over we’d certainly smell more of garlic than beer.

Once again, score.

Oh, hey, speaking of which … remember that whole how-great-would-it-be-to-just-help-yourself-to-the-beer-cooler thing? Well we joked about it to the server, and she was like “yeah, that’s fine, just let me know what you take.” Um, OK. Of course we took her up on that. Jerrid and I both took turns getting rounds out of the cooler throughout the course of the night.

There’s something about getting up from your seat and announcing “I’m getting another beer, anyone need anything?” as you place your hand on on the cooler door that just makes you feel right at home. In a bar. That used to be a house.

Right.

Shane and I both got burgers for our meals. The burgers at Foster’s can be either half pound or full pound patties, and they’re fresh made. The only difference in our orders was the toppings (lettuce, tomato, mushroom and swiss for me, and mushroom, onion and swiss for Shane) and the way we had them cooked (pink for him, not so pink for me). We were both impressed that our server managed to remember everything – correctly – without writing it down. Nice.

Because if you can't have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Because if you can’t have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

We were definitely not disappointed, either. The burgers at Foster’s are great. They are definitely fresh made and cooked to order, as evidenced here:

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

We each got the half pound burgers, and each of them were huge. Which means I can’t even imagine what trying to eat the full pound burger that they offer must be like. I mean, beyond the obvious “well, imagine eating twice the burger you had in your hand.” … seriously, it’s like here’s your side of cow on a bun, enjoy? I have to imagine it’s probably something close to what we experienced at the Caddyshack Inn down the road a few weeks ago, that’s about the best I can come up with.

Hinckley – home of the massive hamburgers. Who says a town doesn’t need a tagline?

Amanda got the steak sandwich on the warm pretzel bun. She said the bun was what sold her on it, since she had actually just had steak for dinner the night before and wasn’t overly crazy about eating it again. Just goes to show you that pretzel buns are charming little m-fers.

You had me at "pretzel bun"

You had me at “pretzel bun”

In any case, at least it was good, so she didn’t regret her decision. The only bad part was that the charming little bun – in true pretzel fashion – actually had a touch too much salt on it. I looked over once and did a double take at her scraping giant pieces of salt off the top of her sandwich – which, if you can believe, is something that doesn’t happen so often at our table (shocker, right?), so it caught my attention. But other than that her meal was very tasty.

Jerrid and Ted both ordered the triple chicken sandwich. And of course we were all intrigued by the name, and had to discuss what exactly it was that could possibly make it “triple” chicken? Is it three chicken patties on one sandwich? Is it breaded in three times the amount of batter? (after experiencing the appetizer mathematics lesson from earlier in the evening, we already knew the answer to that one) Do they flip it three times before they know it’s done? WHAT??? TELL US?

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

Sadly, we still have no idea. The sandwiches came out looking like, well, pretty much any other chicken sandwich we’ve ever seen, anywhere. The guys said they were good, though. The chicken was thin, but moist. Which even further confuses the whole “triple” concept (triple moisture maybe? I give up) but whatever.

And BTW, I’d like to point out that there was no cheer for Ted on his sandwich order, because that was completely out of left field for him. I mean, when did he last order anything chicken … that wasn’t in wing form? Fish – check. Steak – check. Burgers – check. Pizza – check. But chicken? This is new.

Although it was still specified to be without cheese, so at least that was consistent. Whew.

Triple the chicken, no cheese

Triple the chicken, minus the cheese

After dinner – and our third round of “let’s open the cooler for more beer” – we got our arms twisted into ordering the Oreo cheesecake for dessert. Because, well, beer and sugar attract one another, I think. In any case, we didn’t regret our choice. First of all – while they weren’t LagerHead’s carrot cake sized pieces, they were still pretty ginormous. And second of all, well, they were just pretty damn delicious. The cook actually delivered the slices to the table herself, and mentioned when she dropped it off that she had made it earlier in the day. Well that’s good to hear. Because who wants two week old cheesecake? Am I right?

Why don't we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

Why don’t we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

It’s not every day we get a visit by the cook. Wait, hey – dammit, why didn’t we ask her about the chicken? Stupid delicious cheesecake and beers clouding our judgement. Argh!

Overall Foster’s is a pretty cool little place. It’s definitely “homey” on the inside (see what I did there?) – there are tables kind of tucked into corners, and under stairs, and wedged in next to coolers, and close to the bar … so I can only imagine when it gets crowded in there that it’s a bit snug. There is a whole other room – looks like they may have built on an addition on the one side, as an attempt to fix the whole space issue –  but that space is also, well, a bit boring. No TVs, no bar, no one else sitting over there – so they may want to work on jazzing that area up a bit more if they want to entice people to venture over there.

We all agreed that it was a tad on the pricey side, just given the environment – I mean, you can’t charge steakhouse prices in a dive bar atmosphere – at least the food is good and the people are nice.  did read some reviews that mentioned that the place is not fond of new people or “outsiders” – but fortunately we never experienced any bad service or side eye glances. Unless the real reason the cook came out was to check on how we were feeling after she spit in all of our food … but I’m thinking that was highly unlikely.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks: Serve yourself beer is a fun concept. Definitely beats straining to see the taps behind the bar, or reading outdated menu listings.
Food: Avoid the appetizers and just order the main course. And if you figure out WTF makes the chicken “triple” please let us know.
Service: Some may say getting beer out of the cooler yourself means the servers are being lazy, but I give them kudos because we never waited for a drink. And bonus points to the server for allowing us to try the new “garlic heaven” perfume they must be debuting here.
Overall: I could definitely see us going back. Although being just down the street from the Caddyshack does create a conundrum. Shane might be on to something with this whole cornering the Hinckley market idea.

Next Pick: Steph
Foster's Tavern of Hinckley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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