Brooklawn, NJ (another store in Sewell, NJ)
Menu: Clancy’s Website Menu
Meal: Dinner / 8pm / Weekday
Price: $20 (For Two – No Drinks – Includes Tip)
First Reviewed: February 2008
If you’re tired of hitting up TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s all the time, Clancy’s is a sure-fire bet to go somewhere a little different than still feels strangely familiar. More like the aforementioned casual eatery joints than a local ‘pub’, Clancy’s offers you all the room you need to meet, greet, and mingle while still getting great food and all the alcohol you need. Back in March of 2008, we were more or less happy with the establishment, but our most recent visit left us decidedly disappointed.
We swung by the Brooklawn location on the side of Rt130, which is fairly accessible and clearly marked. There looked to be a good amount of parking, and we really liked the the exterior, which included an outdoor patio with several tables that they presumably open seasonally. Once inside, you’re greeted with a choice to sit at the bar, tables near the bar, or to be seated in the dining area ‘downstairs’ – which is really just two small steps below. Still, the bi-level feel is a neat touch and serves as a effective buffer from the bar crowd and noise, if you’re not into that kinda thing. Unfortunately, on this visit, there was no greeter and we wandered the floor and seated ourselves.
The tables and booths are all wooden; the booths do not have any padding whatsoever, but are polished, finished, and seem to be high-quality furnishings. We didn’t think they were uncomfortable for the time we were there, but both of us felt that even a minimal layer of foam across the top of the seat would really work wonders. As suggested, the place is quite large for the moniker of a pub, and we counted somewhere in the area of two-dozen televisions mounted on the wall (most of which were in the bar). At the time of this review, there were pathetic blue-screen warnings on some of the TVs that they hadn’t been upgraded to a digital signal and couldn’t receive the desired channel. Are you kidding me? Let’s hope they have that fixed when the eagles fans start piling in. The Sewell location does not appear to be nearly as large as its brother in Brooklawn.
Last time, we ditched the regular menu and went for the dinner specials. This time, we did the opposite. Although the dinner special sported a well-priced 8oz filet for $11.95, Autumn wasn’t crazy about the lack of vegetable choices – it was green beans or cole slaw – along with a twice baked potato. She doesn’t like green beans, and who wants cole slaw as a side for filet mignon? A house salad was an extra $3 on top of any entree. Considering the skimpy accompaniments, we went the cheap(er) route and ordered a couple of wraps; fajita for her and crab for me. At $6.95 and $7.95 respectively, you get a bag of chips and a pickle .. a side of fries added set us back $3.
The real story on this visit was the waitress. On not one, but two occasions, she walked away from the table so quickly we couldn’t ask her a follow-up question about the menu. I’ve never quite experienced that before! She was thoroughly unfriendly to *us*, but appeared to be super chummy with both couples on either side of us. Although the restaurant was not even half full, she seemed unbelievably hurried and if I didn’t know any better I’d assume she had something against us from the start. Sure, Autumn and I could maybe (maybe?) pass as a couple of cheap-skate kids, but we are almost always generous with tips when provided quality service. Considering I took Autumn here as a mini-celebration of sorts, and do not find $20 easy to come by anymore, I at least expect smiles and sincerity with my meal. I want to feel good after taking my girlfriend out to dinner.. not feel like crap. In the end, I gave her an uncharacteristically small tip, and debated giving her none at all. That’s how disappointed I was.
As far as the food went, it really came down to what was inside our wraps. Her chicken fajita was packed, overflowing with peppers and onions, compared to my deflated crap wrap. The meager concession of crab tasted good, but it was a far cry from the mouth-watering, similarly priced wrap at the Cherry Hill Bistro which is now my benchmark against how all other crab wraps are measured. The cocktail sauce on the side wasn’t even completely thawed. Seriously. Autumn’s fajita wrap, on the other hand, was terrific. I had a few bites and really enjoyed it. She needed an extra side of salsa (which was indiscriminantly plopped on the table by the waitress), but otherwise it was awesome. They served each with a good pickle wedge which tasted fresh. The fries were crunchy, but nothing to write home about it.
While not a complete failure, our experience was a marked degradation from a year ago. The trivia-night going on in the bar was somewhat entertaining, but we were scoring pretty lousy and didnt stick around for the end of it. Had we stuck to some of our former favorites like the wings, pot pie, or the corn crab chowder, we would have probably had a much better experience. That is, however, why we ‘play the game’ and try to order different things the second time around. There’s enough to like here that we’re not going to bury this place because of one poor experience, but let’s not discount it. On top of that, two wraps with different insides ought to look more or less the same, especially if the skimpy one was a buck more! Otherwise, the person eating the smaller one is going to feel ripped, and that I did. No precipitous decline in our score, but a notable one all the same. A restaurant is only as a good as the impetus of its customers to return, and Clancy’s won’t be seeing us anytime soon.
– Lots of space for friends and family
– Large bar area, tons of TVs
– Prices haven’t appeared to change much since last visit
– Outdoor seating
– Doesn’t have a really defined personality
– Dinner entrees are ala carte .. no freebies
– Crummy waitress (at least ours)
– Outdoor patio has no additional bar
2008 Score: 3.55
Guru’s Score: 3.15 Chews
Subjective rating: The food was good, the intangibles were not.
Have you been to Clancy’s Pub? If so, please add your rating! (Limited to 1 Vote per IP Address.)
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