Munch goes to Mullen's Bar and Grill
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The best thing about early summer is dining alfresco.
Just this weekend Munch had a lovely picnic with ribs and chicken and every type of salad other Great Neighbors of Munch Everyday (GNOME) could create.
The time of the picnic was set for 4 p.m., because that is when the trees on the hill above GNOME's garden shade the sun, providing a nice outdoor patio.
In Pittsburgh, it is best to dine out in the early summer, after the last frost and before the first real heat wave.
It's a glorious three or four days. It was on just such a day that Newlywed Friend of Munch suggested Mullen's Bar and Grill on Federal Street across from PNC Park.
On this day, we took with us About to be Furloughed Friend of Munch because he could use a free meal.
Munch is a dedicated street parker, but on this day Munch drove around and around the North Side, looking for a spot, even going so far as to back up on Federal Street when someone pulled out of a space, only to find they had been parking at a fire hydrant.
Ultimately, we wound up at the garage directly behind the restaurant in which each of the floors is marked with an iconic Andy Warhol painting, which caused NFOM to remark "Oh, we're on Liz Taylor." Thus handing AFFOM the comeback, "like so many before us."
And then we were at Mullen's, a sports bar with so many televisions that Munch was compelled to count them. There were 19 TVs around the first floor, an odd number really, but then we discovered the TV in the men's room. Honestly, is that necessary?
Well, that discovery forced a reconnaissance mission to the ladies room, only to find there was no TV there.
That led to a follow-up question about changing tables, because if there is anything that annoys Munch, it's restaurants that have changing tables in the women's bathroom, but not in the men's. Well, Mullen's was in the clear there. It doesn't have any changing tables, which will tell you something about the place.
Mullen's has outdoor dining, where you can sit and hear the crowd at the ballpark, or you can go, as we did, on a weekday when the Pirates are out of town, and see people just wandering around. The tables on the sidewalk are under an awning. But, even better, the front of the restaurant opens up, so you can sit just inside watching outside, and also watching any of the dozen televisions in your line of vision.
For lunch, NFOM ordered the Moon Burger (he is still over the moon about his new wife), an 8-ounce burger with bacon and cheddar cheese on a kaiser roll, served with fries ($8.49). For starters, he insisted that we order wings, because any place with bar food that serves wings ought to have good wings.
We ordered six of the "Award Winning Wings" for $4.49. Munch decided the award was probably for congeniality, because, while the wings were nice, they were not hot or saucy in a way that would draw you back for more.
That nice, but not inviting, taste is how Munch also would describe the Santa Fe Sandwich, which was a blackened chicken breast with red and green peppers (adding a lovely color contrast) onions and cheddar jack cheese on a roll ($8.49). It was not very hot, but not at all dry, as some chicken sandwiches can be. It also came with unremarkable fries.
NFOM said his burger, too, was fine.
Fine seemed to be the word for us, but not for AFFOM, who ordered the sloppy joe sandwich and tater tots ($7.59). Munch just wonders what AFFOM was thinking, particularly when, after eating part of the sloppy joe he insisted it was so hideous that Munch absolutely had to try it.
And he was right. It was too sweet but also had too much vinegar. And the potatoes were deep fried, not baked, so they were really, really greasy.
When the waitress came over to ask how everything was and we remarked that AFFOM's food was awful, she laughed and walked away.
AFFOM may be on an unpaid furlough, but at least he can now slide right through it.
First Published May 28, 2009 12:00 am