THE CORNER PUG
1046 New Britain Ave., West Hartford
860-231-0241 and http://www.cornerpug.com
What is "comfort food"? Food that is familiar, almost too filling, with no exotic ingredients. This is the food served at The Corner Pug. It's not perfect, but it's food I'll never say no to.
THE VIBE: It's all big rooms, dark wood, wall paneling and pressed-tin ceilings. The walls are all mirrors, beer ads and pug dogs. Lots and lots of pugs. It's cozy. It would be cozier if the service wasn't so pokey.
THE FOOD: We were a party of nine, and our orders were varied. Two guys who ordered chicken pot pie were happiest with their food; it was the winner of the bunch, and was so filling neither could finish it. Coming in second, only because only one person ordered it, was the Reuben, which was fat and juicy, on thick, toasty bread.
My husband ordered the Pug's signature macaroni and cheese, made with cheddar, gruyere and Swiss. Was it our imagination, or is this dish smaller than it used to be? That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because as is, it was rich and cheesy and just filling enough. I ordered the French dip, which has been my favorite in past visits, and it was exactly as I remembered: meaty and tasty but soggy on the bottom roll. (The sogginess has never stopped me from ordering it, but it would taste better without it.)
One of us ordered the seared salmon sandwich, and only ate the meat and not the roll, because the meat was filling enough. The two who ordered the meat loaf both agreed that it could have used more spice. One brought hers home for someone else to eat. The other ate all of his. The last diner said her clam chowder was well spiced and clammy but too thin, and her tossed salad was good but not great.
All our fries were too cold. The garlic bread with the mac and cheese was cold, too. This probably had something to do with the slow service. And why was one person who ordered a salad offered a half-dozen dressing choices, but another only two?
THE BILL: At lunchtime, appetizers — wings, homemade potato chips, calamari, rings, mussels, crab cakes, garlic bread, soups, salads, etc. — range from $3.59 to $9.99. Burgers and sandwiches, which include Reubens, steak wraps, French dip, portabella and salmon, come with fries and range from $7.99 to $10.99. Plated lunches, which include a roasted veggie plate, meat loaf, an omelet, fajitas, fish and chips and a plowman's lunch, range from $7.99 to $11.99. There are desserts, but as I said, this food is almost too fililng. You won't want dessert.
THE PARTICULARS: Open for lunch Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for brunch Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for dinner Monday to Thursday 3 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 to 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Late night hours on Thursday 10 to 11 p.m., Saturday 11 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 9 to 10 p.m.
THE VERDICT: I'd eat here any day, but next time I will send the fries back if the order takes too long to deliver.