At the Table: Visit to Angry Penguin is likely to leave you happy

The Angry Penguin was placid, serene even, one afternoon recently. At lunchtime, the dining room was

Angry Penguin Tavern

WHERE: 41 Broad St., Waterford; 237-2829

WHEN: 12 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $47.75, with drinks, tax and tip.

MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, Discover. Parking in municipal lot across the street and on street. No children’s menu.

The Angry Penguin was placid, serene even, when Virginia and I went to visit one afternoon recently. At lunchtime, the dining room was empty but for us, which is a shame since they’re so nice and do some things so well.

The restaurant specializes in pub food and has a full bar with a wide variety of beer. A gentleman seated there was our only company that afternoon. Consequently, the service was quite attentive.

You’ll find said pub food, especially in the appetizer section of the menu, American pub food, that is. Wings and fried stuff predominate. Sandwiches, hot and cold, are abundant. Prices are friendly. The two dinner specials that day were under $12.

The main door opens into the bar, and directly to the left is the dining room with about 10 wooden tables and plenty of room between them. We had a view of Broad Street from our front table, and of the lace curtains blowing in the deep windows. The decor consists of old-fashioned beer signs and, of course, penguins. Some pine boughs lingered on the high shelf that ran the width of the room. It is pleasant, comfortable; not fancy. We were pleased.

Winging it

Any restaurant that bills itself as a tavern around here had better have respectable wings, so we ordered a batch ($6.95) to find out. Angry Penguin satisfies on that count. We liked the crisp wings, with spot-on sauce, a bit salty, which I liked very much. Some restaurants give you an even dozen wings, some have reduced the portion to 10. We got 11.

Husband Eric would be mighty disappointed to find there wasn’t a single little drumstick in the batch, but I was pleased since I like the flat piece with its fatty skin better. It’s called the wingette, as opposed to the drummette.

The choices for sauce were mild or hot, and I’m glad we picked mild, because it had a nice kick to it, enough to remind you what you’re eating. The wingettes were meaty and moist.

Virginia got a cup of soup of the day, tomato cognac bisque ($3.50), which was delicious and very fresh-tasting. The color was a bit orange, but the soup was thick and pulpy from tomatoes, seasoned with fresh herbs, and there was an undercurrent of something alcoholic and rich even in the small spoonful I tried. The Angry Penguin knows what it’s doing when it comes to soup.

A second cup of coffee ($2, free refills) was served up quickly after Virginia discovered the cream formed snowflakes on the surface of the first, and our lunches arrived. The pulled pork sandwich ($7.95) is a specialty, according to the menu, so Virginia gave it a try. Sandwiches come with coleslaw; fries and onion rings are extra. The sweet potato fries added an extra $2.50 to the price of the sandwich.

Satisfying fries, salad

The plate was a thing of beauty, with a pile of bright orange fries, pulled pork overflowing its Kaiser roll, purple coleslaw and a green pickle wedge. Even the toasted roll looked terrific. It was approachable only with a fork and knife, and worth the effort, Virginia said. She was kind enough to share her fries, which are up there with the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten. They can be greasy and limp, but these were dry, even a bit crisp, sweet in the middle, and sprinkled with slow-dissolving sea salt for a perfect contrast.

I chose another special, a green salad with fresh mozzarella cheese, cranberries and almonds in a cider-maple dressing ($10.50). I decided that although mozzarella doesn’t really go with sweet dressing, the dried cranberries and slivered almonds certainly do. Along with the chopped Romaine and baby greens were shredded carrots and thinly sliced radishes. The salad was tossed and perfectly coated with dressing, exactly how I like it, though I’d played it safe and ordered the dressing on the side.

The Angry Penguin gets points for excellent maple-cider flavor, a good balance between sour and sweet. Some of the lettuce was a bit browned at the edges, but the Romaine was wrinkly and terrific. Together with half the wings, the salad made a meal.

The server remembered to top off our drinks and checked to see if we needed anything, which we didn’t. The lunch was just enough, and we skipped on the homemade desserts. The tab for our pleasant lunch came to $47.75, with soda and coffee, tax and tip.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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