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Pub food done right in Hagerstown

October 13, 2008|By OMNI VORE

The Peach Pub is a real pub. According to my dictionary, a pub is defined as a public house, a drinking establishment, a social place. A pub has music and games and beer on tap, mixed drinks and wines. And most of all a pub has pub food. I was raised on pub food - my great-grandmother owned an Irish pub. The food she prepared was salty. The point was to sell beer. She was a good businesswoman.

For a short while, I lived in England. Pubs offered a cozy home away from home. The food served in the British Isles' pubs included shepherd's pie, ploughman's lunch, pasties (a lamb and potato pie), steak-and-kidney pie and bangers and mash. In America, today, pub food means fast, filling, good food.

The first day we visited the Peach Pub we ordered the fried shrimp platter and the grinder. Here was the classic pub food that I remembered from long ago. The grinder - roast beef, mozzarella, and onions on a long roll with a potent horseradish sauce - was served in a plastic basket with potato chips.


The fried shrimp were hot, crispy and delicious. These shrimp were fried perfectly. But the real secret was that they were served immediately when they were ready. The shrimp came with waffle fries and a salad of iceberg lettuce with bits of cucumbers, carrots, cheese, red onions, tomatoes and croutons. The blue cheese dressing had no noticeable chunks of cheese, but it did have the right flavor.

There is a whole selection of martinis and house drinks. There is bottled beer and beer on tap. My companion ordered the special of the day - a light, wheat draft beer by Shiner, a Texas brewery. It was served with a slice of lemon in a frosted pilsner glass.

The house wines are Camelot pinot noir from the south of France and Montevina pinot grigio from Amador County, California ($4.50 a glass).

There were two rooms, both very large with high ceilings. The first room, the main entrance, held about seven tables sitting four people each and a long bar at the end of the room. Sitting on the bar was a game machine. On the wall were mirrors with beer or whiskey inscriptions. Fans moved slowly in the red ceiling.

The next room contained a pool table, a television screen, and a Touch Tunes Juke box which glowed with a changing rainbow of color. Neon beer signs decorated the walls. In front of the window was a clear space for musicians and/or dancing. The other art in the room was a full-length wall fresco with the symbol of Peach Pub - a mug of beer, tilted, with foam spilling out.

We asked our waitress what her favorites were; she mentioned the chili and the fried fish sandwich, but said the wraps are the most popular menu item. And she recommended the clubs.

We returned soon after. When we entered the pub, the gregarious waitress cried out "Hi" to us from the bar at the end of the room. We felt welcomed and remembered, as if we had entered the set of "Cheers." My companion ordered a quarter-pound, all-beef hot dog and the beer of the day, National Bohemian, a brand from long ago, now resurrected. The wiener was cooked to perfection, served hot on a toasted bun and very tasty. My companion was pleased.

I ordered the Peach Pub club sandwich. The club sandwich is a favorite of mine from childhood when my grandmother made it for me. I liked the way grandmother cut the sandwich into triangles with a toothpick stuck through each wedge to keep it together because it was stacked so high.

The Peach Pub version was very big, too. A generous mouthful of ham, turkey, American cheese, bacon. But the quality of ingredients was lacking. The ham and turkey were watery and bland. The bacon was overdone. The tomato was not ripe. And the toasted Wonder Bread was not hot. It was an ordinary sandwich and I was disappointed. But who can compete with the memory of a grandmother's cooking?

Six o'clock at night was a busy time at the Peach Pub. A man wearing a DFES Washington County sweat shirt picked up a major take-out order. A large group of people were in the other room. The regulars sat at the bar. People came and went. The lone waitress flew through all this. She took orders, delivered them, tended bar, joked with the guys and tallied bills. She was astounding.

The owner, David Peacher, came over to greet us, asked if we liked the food, gave my companion a chip to get another Nat Bo. He told us his story. He had owned the Broad Axe, sold it and retired, but decided to get back in the business to run the Peach Pub. He and his daughter Kendra run the place, and they have applied for a license to have outdoor seating.

The music was loud. The laughter was loud. The TV was blaring. But when the music became "Georgia on my Mind," we relaxed, drank our beverages, looked out on the Hagers-town Arts and Entertainment District and hoped that The Peach Pub would be around for a while.

Restaurant review

The Peach Pub

4 stars (out of 5)

Food: 4 stars

Service: 5 stars

Ambiance: 3 stars

Value: 3 stars

Address: 43 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

Hours: 11 a.m to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays

Style: American pub food

Phone: 240-625-9491

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