By Lenora Dannelke
Special to The Morning Call
8:28 AM EDT, July 11, 2013
Ringer’s Roost has deep roots in Allentown, considering its more than 30 year presence in the city’s West End. This pub grub tradition, however, is changing with the times — adding lighter, healthier selections that are good and good-for-you, too.
The decor tells the story of Ringer’s longevity. Beer cans parade along a shelf near the barroom’s ceiling, a collection that must have taken years to amass. Framed photographs of Allentown and the Allentown Fair predate the restaurant, and Allentown Fair tickets from the 1930s are displayed along with old newspaper stories. Pale lime green walls in the dining room include bead board wainscoting; oilcloths table coverings contribute to the comfy, old-time feel.
Ringer’s new menu, however, brings the restaurant into the 21st century. That means that along with homemade pierogies, which might have been on the menu for decades, the fare now includes lemon-thyme chicken satay as well as veggie wraps.
And along with the canary burger (onion rings, applewood bacon, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce and Thousand Island dressing) there’s a salmon burger. Close to a dozen salad selections include shrimp and asparagus, seafood Cobb and grilled salmon.
Szechuan shrimp and pork dumplings ($7.95), steamed rather than pan-fried, of course, were a great starter, easy to share and just spicy enough to pique taste buds. Beautifully presented with a pile of wonderfully crispy rice noodles, the dumplings were served with sweet and spicy orange chili sauce that finished with just a tingle on the lips.
Balanced house-made balsamic vinaigrette dressed colorful dinner salads (included with entrees) that had to be full of antioxidants, considering the mixed lettuce, radicchio, spinach, red onion and cherry tomato composition. But the croutons, ah, there’s the star — soaked in vinaigrette, they melted in the mouth disintegrating into molecules of flavor.
Veggie stir fry ($12.95) with shrimp ($4) featured zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, red peppers, green peppers, red onions, mushrooms and garlic in plum teriyaki sauce — a veritable garden on a plate. The shrimp was tender, the veggies just tender enough, and the accompanying jasmine rice was perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce.
Certainly inspired by a warmer clime, Gulf grouper lump crabmeat guacamole ($15.95) was delicious. The lightly breaded pan-seared filet, topped with avocado, lump crabmeat, cilantro, lime juice and a hint of tequila, was light and crispy outside, flaky inside. Avocado’s velvety richness was good balance, but it outshone the crab’s delicate sweetness, unfortunately. Smashed red skin potatoes were dense and thick.
A simple sweet, coconut custard pie ($5), chewy with coconut, satisfied simply.
Ringer’s Roost’s new menu additions make a great place even better. At this comfy, anytime spot, veggie burgers have equal opportunity with applewood bacon meatloaf and brown onion gravy.
Dinner for two, including tax and tip, but without alcoholic beverages, totaled $58.
1809 W. Allen St., Allentown
Hours: Kitchen hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Bar open to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, midnight Sunday.
Prices: Appetizers: $3.25-$23.99 (30 wings); sandwiches: $5.95-$8.95; entrees: $9.95-$20.95
Credit cards: Discover, MasterCard, Visa.
Accessibility: Ramp to entry; restrooms wheelchair accessible.Location: In city area near Allentown Fairgrounds on north side of W. Allen Street just west of intersection with N. 18th Street. Parking in lot and on the street
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