Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BoJack's Pub & Grill

BoJack's Pub and Grill
816 N. 4th St., Coeur d'Alene
(208) 664-9957

"Roll out of bed, Mr. Coffee's dead;
The morning's looking bright;
And your shrink ran off to Europe,
And didn't even write;
And your husband wants to be a girl;

Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name."
~ "Cheers" Theme

In this particular part of our fusty old planet, describing your burger as "served Huddy's style" is truly tempting fate. The product served by Hudson's Hamburgers is so legendary and luscious, that it'd be like describing your child's artwork as "DaVinci-esque" or your ample ass as "Kardashian-ish". It would just seem so very highly unlikely to match up to the untouchable perfection of the original. Contrary to what a handful of people who don't get it may say, a Huddy Burger is more than just a grilled patty of beef, a cheap slice of cheese, and some pickles and onion, a Huddy Burger practically is Coeur d'Alene, and has been for 104 years.

So when I spotted that particular description on the BoJack's menu next to "Our Favorite Burger", I knew right away I had to give it a go just to see if it was actually anywhere close to the real deal or if they were just going for a base marketing stab bordering on trademark infringement.. Honestly, in the end it wasn't Huddy-like, but as I paused for breath after inhaling the entire burger in a small series of rapid bites, I certainly wasn't anywhere close to bitching.

The "Our Favorite" might not have quite stood up to the greasy, heart-stopping, artery clogging grandeur of a Hudson's classic, but it was quite amazing on it's own merits. While it wasn't quite as fat-laden as we've come to expect and love from Huddy's, it was a bit larger, included what seemed like a bit more cheese, and had a bit more of a darker, butterier toastiness to the burger bun. The pickle and onion slices, while most likely not dramatically sliced on the right on the spot like at Hudson's fared well and passed inspection.

Honestly, BoJack's is likely never going to achieve the same immortality and attract national attention the way Hudson's has, but they do provide a few certain advantages over the tiny downtown Cd'A institution. Firstly, the "Our Favorite" is served with your choice of fries or tater tots. I know, I know, Hudson's is above needing lowly potato-based side dishes, but it is rather nice to be able to enjoy a classic cheeseburger with the harmonic accompaniment of perfectly crisp, salty crinkly fries that BoJacks serves up.

The charming cardboard beer six-pack container full of various condiments (including spicy mustard and horseradish ketchup to complete the Hudson's effect) makes for a magnificent table accessory to go with said fries or tots or whichever other of their parade of classic pub fried items you decide to order up - the Bo Jack's menu also includes finger steaks, mozzerella sticks, onion rings, clam strips, jalapeño poppers, shrimp, chicken strips, and JoJo's? What? No deep fried emu tongues?

Another advantage is a one word answer: beer. Of course, BoJack's is a pub, and they have pub hours so when you need that fix of thick meat slathered in spicy, tangy condiments after banking hours, Bojacks is a fair substitute.

Although they only serve beer and wine (a few points off their overall score for lack of Jagermeister), beer goes much better with a burger than a glass of buttermilk, which is Hudson's rather geriatric trademark beverage. I put away a mini-pitcher of delicious Shock Top ale with my "Our Favorite", but BoJack's taps also pour out pints and pitchers of frosty  Bushmills, Pyramid Ale, Wallace Brewery IPA, and Kokanee, as well as regular old beer like Coors and Bud Light. Unfortunately, the Pabst does not flow here on tap, but PBR-heads need not cry - it is available in cans.

BoJack's has also has actual room to move around and breathe. Hudson's is the wee littlest hole in the wall and one almost always has to cram in and wait like an oily sardine for a spot at the counter, then when you finally get a spot, not only does your butt get sore on the tiny, ancient bar stools, but you have to enjoy your burger with the hot mouth wind of a stranger giving motion to the wispy hairs on your face. Ew.

Maybe people were just smaller 70 years ago or whatever when the Hudson's building was built (it was an upgrade from a wooden shanty), but it's just too intimate (read: uncomfortably cramped). While the hassle can be worth it occasionally when that impossible to deny Huddy's craving strikes, BoJack's definitely wins on this note. There's a long, spacious bar, a dozen tall tables with comfortable (though also very retro) low-backed red Naugahyde chairs, and room for pool tables, a lottery machine, old car stuff, and lots and lots of framed photos of sports stars I'll never, ever know the names of or care one iota about.

Hudson's sterile bright lights, white walls, and  historical artifacts are nice, but BoJack's dimness is easier on the mind and their decor is just more bursting with variety and color.

While Hudson's staff are frequently endearing in their own grumpy way, the BoJack's show stars the wonderful Patty, who acted as our hostess, bartender, waitress, and chef on our visit, in between keeping the dozen-or-so kooky blue-collar-ish afternoon regulars up at the bar tipsy and entertained.

A woman in at least her mid to late 50s, it's clear that our dear Patty has been behind the counter since when BoJack's (currently owned by the Gittel family) was known for many years as the Office Tavern, and likely since whatever it was called before that (anybody?).

The toll of the years on her brain shone through a bit on our recent visit when she kept forgetting to bring things, like our beverages and our menus, but her weathered blond glamor and self-depreciating charm were so down-to-earth and enjoyable that we didn't really care in she took all damn evening to bring our stuff.

There were a lot of changes that came to pass a few years ago with the Midtown Cd'A makeover, including the name of this pub, but Patty's presence is one thing that remained untouched, and it's evident that the neighborhood regulars who frequent BoJack's consider her to be the den mother in their home away from home. The pub grub is homespun and fantastic, the beer is colder than May in North Idaho, and the vibe is as  warm and friendly as a visit to the old family funny farm. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've completely inspired me to go. I always see this place but wouldn't have thought twice about going until your review. A decent grease burger, an excessive amount of condiments, and beer... Count me in!