Cheap, bland items are the enemy of any bar menu. For every place that serves truly inventive fare, there are stacks of laminated menus filled with mozzarella sticks and potato skins. This, my friends, is the culinary wasteland, and you are better than that.
"The days of being normal, offering wings, burgers, french fries are over," says Eric Williams, the chef who brought us Momocho and figured out chunky peanut butter belongs on hot dogs when creating Happy Dog's impressive toppings list. "The customers who go out to eat want something different yet accessible."
That's why Happy Dog serves quarter-pound hot dogs on buns made by a local bakery and with 50 house-made toppings.
Williams also helped Stone Mad's team make over its menu earlier this year. Because the Irish pub has a heavily Italian customer base, he stayed true to the pub image while appeasing patrons. Chicken sausage with polenta is his Italian spin on bangers and mash. Along with serving snacks, French bread pizzas and sandwiches, he also opted to let diners pick entree sides from creative options such as curried cream corn and Brussels sprouts with bacon.
"We take something very basic and completely elevate it using high-quality ingredients," Williams says. "That's the key to success."
2 to try
Bar Cento: The pommes frites are legendary (page 99), and they're one of Williams' go-to bar eats, along with the inventive pizzas. barcento.com
ABC the Tavern: Williams knows hot dogs, and the bacon-wrapped, jalapeno-stuffed, deep-fried Atomic Dog is one of his faves. abcthetavern.com