Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Munck-ee See, Munck-ee Do

I always tease the missus about her looking and behaving like a monkey.
So when she advised me that she was taking me to the "Monkey Bar" to celebrate a recent milestone, I asked forgiveness for looking at her askance.

As it develops, the joint is actually named "The Munck-ee Bar," assuming the name of its owners, the Muncks. (The ee's were added at a whim.) The missus and her gal pals went there for dinner a few weeks back, and she wanted me to visit. Since she was buying, I quickly agreed.

The PubScout hunts for cool pubs. It's what I do. And to make my recommendation list, a pub has to have a welcoming ambience, friendly staff, a good selection of beer and good pub-grub. (Dark wood, wattle and daub construction and a Tudor appeal also helps as in the pic at the top of the page, but these are not required.)

I confess that my first criterion--that welcoming ambience factor--took a bit of a hit as we approached. On a side street in the gritty blue collar town of South Amboy, the joint looked like a dive gin-mill my father would have patronized back in the 40's. Uh-oh, says I. I'm a bit leery about just walking in here, and you want me to eat, too?

But, with her insisting that the food was very good, we pressed on, and once inside this very local bar, the welcoming ambience factor returned. Spacious, high-ceilinged with an old square bar at center stage and with a very large stone fireplace in one corner, my sense of unease disappeared.

Especially when I saw a chap cooking feverishly--right behind the bar, with a shiny new grease/smoke exhaust unit high above his cooking area. As I would come to learn, this was Rob Munck, one of three brothers who own the pub jointly.

Debbie and Rob Munck

We were first greeted by the bar mistress, Debbie, whose smile and demeanor spoke volumes. The missus ordered a Blue Moon (hey, cut me a break-- for two and a half decades, she'd only drink Bud.) I looked at the eight taps and saw three things that piqued my interest. The first was Goose Island IPA, the second was Leninenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter and the third was Sam Adams' Alpine Spring. Interesting, says I. So I ordered the Vanilla Porter, and it was pretty darned good. Rob changes the offerings regularly, based upon what sells best. Stella Artois and Yuengling's are also on tap.

The first thing I noticed on the menu were the reasonable prices. The second thing was the pierogies appetizer. (Or was it the other way around?)

The missus ordered the Shrimp Quesadilla and I ordered a Steak Sandwich. The pierogies came out first and they looked most appetizing, smothered as they were in sauteed onions. And upon tasting them, we both said these were not frozen but homemade. Debbie confirmed that they were, and in fact, made fresh for the Munck-ee Bar by a local Polish woman. Nobody makes pierogies like Polish women. Absolutely outstanding, and they even went well with the porter.

"Unbelievably delicious!"

The missus allowed that her Shrimp Quesadilla was "unbelievably delicious," and my steak sandwich was equally so. The bread, made and delivered daily by a local bread guy, was crazy fresh, and the sandwich was chock full of steak and cooked to perfection with Swiss Cheese and Mushrooms, and came with fresh onion rings. For just $6.95, it was a steal. I ordered a Goose island IPA, and it, too worked very well.

This was the night the area was expecting another "monster" snowstorm,  so we didn't stay for the festivities that were aborning, as crowds of locals began to flow in.

Once again, the old adage about judging a book by its cover rings true. Good food, good beer, good people are at The Munck-ee Bar.

When it came time to pay the very reasonable bill, the missus coyly advised me that she had brought no money, and I had to go to the hip. So guess who made a monkey out of whom?

No matter, though.  She also made a Munck-ee Bar fan out of me. We'll certainly be back. Check it out sometime, and tell them The PubScout sent you!

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