Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend my dad’s extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins) made plans to meet at the Pirate’s Den on Saturday night for dinner, drinks, and entertainment from the Rusty Griswolds. In 2010 this west side watering hole moved from their location for as long as I can remember to a nearby strip-mall anchored by Big Lots. I’m not a fan of the location change (though I never went to the old Pirate’s Den), it’s just that locations like these seem so stale. Though something must be drawing the bar crowd in, as Champions Grille has also relocated to just a couple of doors down.
We arrived to find some of our family members already occupying four or five high top circular tables. My family all sat down at one of these tables and decided to order some buckets of beer. This seemed to be the way to go, and the server even offered to hurry the order in so we could get happy hour pricing. I’m not sure if she forgot, or if they were really that busy, but it took a solid fifteen minutes for our drinks to arrive. Once they did we decided to split some appetizers between our group. We ordered nachos, chicken tenders, and a combo platter of cheese sticks, poppers, more tenders, and potato skins.
It didn’t take as long for the food to arrive, and my disappointment was immediate. The nachos ($7) were the first to show up. This consisted of a relatively small offering of chips covered it melted cheese that I wouldn’t call cheddar, and then topped with the worst lettuce I have seen, a few tomatoes, along with onion, black olives, and jalapenos. Normally ordering nachos at a bar will provide a heaping plate of food that can feed a small army. And even though there was so little flavor here, my family of six managed to gobble them down in no time at all.
The fried food was better than our nacho experience, but fried foods are pretty hard to screw up. The fried pickles that we weren’t supposed to get as part of our combo platter, but were given anyway, were the best items available. The chicken tenders weren’t bad either, but weren’t anything special either. I guess anything was better than the nachos we were served. Or at least I though that was true until I saw a salad that one of my cousins ordered. It was the $3.50 house salad, and was a pile of the same lettuce we had on our nachos, with tiny amounts of tomato, onion, bacon, and cheese. I would at least expect some better lettuce as it is the foundation of a salad. I wish I had a photo of the salad, but the room was so dark it was hard to get many good shots.
I would suggest sticking to the drinks at the Pirate’s Den and stay far away from the food. Though later in the night I did see a lady walking around taking orders for the neighboring Empress Chili. So rather than ordering from the Pirate’s Den menu, grab a couple of coneys from Empress. The availability of chili inside really makes me question the food from the Pirate’s Den more than I already have.