Representatives from the t:e organization found themselves at Rhodes North Tavern in Sloatsburg, NY, recently, and boy were we impressed.
If you're like me, you've probably driven past this place a bunch of times, and thought "hmm, looks like an interesting biker bar," but then never pulled the trigger. That was a mistake on my part, and on yours as well.
Our first impression when pulling into the parking lot was "woah, this place is packed." Thankfully, it's quite a large space, and all of those people from those cars found their way to some place other than the large, square bar, where we gleefully set up shop.
Right from go, we felt as if we were in another world. While Sloatsburg is only a few miles from the New Jersey border, there seems to be a, umm, cultural difference from your average Bergen County restaurant. In a completely good way. Was it due to the country pop music playing over the sound system? Hey listen, I hate country pop as much as the next guy (although I loves me some Big & Rich), but when subjected to it on a Sunday afternoon, you just can't help but think you're on vacation. Like in South Carolina or something. In a completely good way.
Friendly bartenders brought us the menus, and bestow my heart, they have about 10 reasonably priced craft brews on tap. Maybe not the craftiest of crafts, but certainly a decent selection, and a surprising one considering the Carrie Underwood-ish music and mounted stuffed animal heads all around.
The cocktail list leans toward flavored vodkas, and colorful drinks with "sour mix." I saw no need to try any, given the Dogfish Head 60 Minute in front of me.
The place boasts a "butcher shop on premises," and I had reasonably high expectations for the burger. I started with a "slider", which is really just a mini-burger. Served on a Martin's Potato roll, and a bit too much cheese, this slider was cooked to m/r as ordered, and perfectly flavorful and juicy. I'll subject you now to a picture of my half eaten slider, for purposes of inspection.
Clams served in a white wine/herb/butter sauce were just as you'd want them, and the bread they serve is outstanding. Not made there, the bread, from what I was told, but from a local bakery (Rockland Bakery, IIRC) which clearly knows how to make bread. Sop up the broth we did.
We were going to both get the burger, but decided against it to try an additional dish. The burger was in fact quite good, and probably one of the better burgers in recent memory. Nice char, fresh meat with a good, course texture, a decent size, and served with a good if not slightly too big bun. Sweet potato fries were excellent, although they might have been of the frozen variety. I don't have strong opinions against frozen fries, as long as they are good. And when they are good, they are better than that bag of limp crap that Five Guys serves.
But I'm not even here to tell you about that burger. I'm here to tell you about the "'Rhodes Famous' Roast Pork hero."
Everyone seemed to be eating this "famous" hero, dipping it in there little plastic ramekins of jus. I figured it would be unexceptional, because I'm a cynical bastard who just assumes that no one knows what's good, and I couldn't have been more wrong. In this case, at least. Most of the time I'm right, and people don't know what's good. But anyway...
I'm not sure if any of you people enjoy the roast pork sandwiches that you'll find at places like DiNic's and Tony Luke's in Philly. If you don't enjoy them, you're wrong, and if you haven't tried them, you're foolish. But don't worry about going to Philly if you're near Rhodes North, because this sandwich is pretty much right up there with Philly's best. OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but it's really not too far off. Given the regard in which I hold Philly's roast pork sandwiches, I don't make this comparison lightly.
A mountain of thinly shaved tender pork, moist and hot from an herbaceous jus, some cheese, and a nice crusty hero roll. This sandwich really impressed me. If we could just get them to top it with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone (rather than the "pepper jack" that it's served with), you'd have a real contender of a "Roast Pork Italian."
At 9 bucks and served with fries, I'd say this pork hero is an incredible value, and overall an outstanding sandwich, even with the pepper jack cheese. As much as I enjoyed the burger, I'm going right for the roast pork next time.
Rhodes has live bands on various days and nights. They've got some of those video games that I actually really enjoy (Funky Monkey, anyone?). There's also an outdoor patio, for the warmer weather.
Good service, big bar, really good burger, outstanding pork sandwich, Funky Monkey, lively atmosphere, Carrie Underwood? I'll be back.
Rhodes North Tavern : 40 Orange Turnpike (Route 17) : Sloatsburg, NY : 845.753.6438