The Elmwood Inn, located a minute’s walk from the intersection of Mount Hope Avenue and Elmwood Avenue, is not what one might expect. Considering it was a rainy Sunday night when I went, the sconce lighting around the exterior walls, visible as you enter through the front foyer, is almost serene, a certain departure from the restaurant’s reputation for being a crazy, busy hangout for college students and community members alike. However, it’s not like a more relaxed setting is something to complain about by any means; a restaurant’s versatility is what engages a variety of different people, keeping it current.

Granted, entering into a restaurant where there are maybe 10 people around the bar and only one table with three dining customers occupied out of 15 is not encouraging. However, braving the elements is not for everyone and the intention was to experience a new space, which was successful.

As converted house, the environment was homey while still seeming commercial. The effect was calming; sliding into the shiny wooden chairs by the window, it seemed appropriate to order a beer considering the restaurant’s pub title and status. The Elmwood’s beer selection is pretty standard, including a variety of Labatts, Millers, Budweisers, Coors, and Sam Adams’. For a more refined taste, some less conventional beers such as Brooklyn IPA, Dos Equis and Smithwicks also make the cut. A pint of Labatt Blue and a Yuengling boded well, though it took a bit longer than it should have to arrive. Taking the first sip, it was the perfect balance of cool and refreshing.

The menu itself is surprisingly extensive for a pub, divided into six main sections: appetizers, salads, quesadillas, sandwiches, burgers and main entre. Naturally, the appetizers section is flooded with delicious sounding fried finger food options including calamari, loaded fries and nachos. Yet it also includes some more upscale choices such as crab cakes, steamers and coconut shrimp. Finding a balance between these two groupings came in the form of zucchini chips, thin-sliced fresh zucchini, breaded and fried to perfection, served with a horseradish dipping sauce. They came out hot and on a bed of spinach leaves that were finely presented and tasty.

The main courses varied, as there are plenty of alternatives depending on the patron’s mood. Yet the sandwiches and burgers, both of which come with fries, will leave you feeling full and likely without leftovers. One of the top sandwiches is the classic Triple Decker Club, which can be made to order with ham and Swiss, roast beef and cheddar or turkey and bacon, crowned with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Whichever combination you choose, the crispy toasted bread and hot fries will round out the plate well.

Burgers are also a good choice, especially because The Elmwood is a pub and let’s be honest, what’s more pub-like than a burger? While the toppings include everything from mushrooms and various cheeses, to bacon, onions and Cajun spices, in an assortment of combinations, the most interesting burger on the menu is the Cheeseburger Club. Imagine taking a cheeseburger and combining it with a sandwich just like the Triple Decker Club previous described: That’s the Cheeseburger Club. The thin toast of the club sandwich enclosing two grilled cheeseburger patties with lettuce, tomato and mayo was something of a rarity as far as burgers go, but most definitely a treat because it’s a new take on a classic. Innovation in food doesn’t go unnoticed.

For college students, hanging out at The Elmwood can be a good time. While this particular experience was on the quieter side, but still enjoyable, a Friday or Saturday night will likely be a bit more active with people crowding the bar and a whole dartboard area with an electronic console. With acceptable service and well-priced food, it’s a decent combination worth checking out. This week’s Best Bang For Your Buck would have to be any sandwich or burger, which range between $7.99 and $9.99 and come with a high pile of fries, macaroni salad or chips. On that note, grab your friends and check this place out.

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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