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Hanks Bar & Restaurant – Camden, NJ

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If restaurants were movies, this one would go straight to DVD.

Hank’s Bar & Restaurant
Camden, NJ
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Price: $15 (Two – Includes Tip)
Meal: Lunch / 1:15p

Across the river line and through the woods (figuratively), Hank’s has the exterior of a venerable staple of the rehabilitated, nationally-recognized (for the wrong reasons!) Camden, NJ scene. Something about the modestly decorated exterior compels you to come in and take a seat. Unfortunately, once you’ve got a seat, it might be some time before you get served.

We tried Hank’s on a weekday after the typical 12-1p lunch hour. To their credit, it was still bustling with not more than a table or two unoccupied. We found what we felt was the cleanest table (some were not cleared) and took a seat; it was a minute or two before we were even acknowledged. The waitress that served us was clearly overburdened, but she didn’t attempt even basic introductions to make us feel welcome. “What are you having?” was the extent of the conversation.

The menu was typical American variety stuff .. cheese steaks, burgers, chicken wings (they claim to have the best?), sandwiches, salads, appetizers, etc. I ordered a cajun chicken sandwich (which came with french fries) and Autumn went conservative with a very safe order of chicken fingers (also with fries). While waiting for our order to arrive, we have more than enough time to thoroughly examine our surroundings. The interior of Hank’s reminded me of a VFW hall or teacher’s lounge – not offensive, but really with no personality whatsoever. Wooden-ish paneled walls, exposed floor heating coils, weathered carpeting, and fairly rigid chairs. The tablecloth might have been straight from the Sears fall catalog. We did notice a large contingent of police officers present (and have in the past as well), so we tried to keep ourselves in line.

After five minutes of waiting, we were still without even a water. After flagging the waitress down and another two minutes later, we finally had something to quench our thirst. When our food finally arrived, it had been a full 30 minutes since we sat down. We both felt the delivery time was awfully long considering the ‘vanilla’ variety of our meals. They were, however, reasonably palatable and Autumn noted that she enjoyed her chicken fingers. My ‘cajun’ sandwich, though, had a bit of an identity crisis. It was really no more than a medium-sized grilled breast with some paprika and roasted red peppers so inconsequential that they almost seemed embarrassed to be under the grocery store kaiser bun. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad at all – but for less than the $6.50 price tag you could probably get a better offering at any fast food joint. We both agreed the french fries were tasty, especially dipped in the honey mustard Autumn got with her chicken fingers.

We couldn’t face the possibility of waiting for the check/payment process, so we asked for the check and left the money on the table. From start to finish, it took us 50 minutes to finish lunch .. and that’s without any conversation delaying us post-meal. In summary, a visit to Hank’s was kind of like a bad movie. It has its purpose, but you’re left wondering how much of a better time you would have had elsewhere.

Pros:

– Food was at least average quality
– Availability of alcohol if you want it

Cons:

– Under staffing created considerable wait times
– Waitress almost indifferent to patrons
– Slightly higher prices than competitors
– Hardly a cozy atmosphere; dining area can be very cold near the door

Our Score: 1.75 Chews
★★☆☆☆

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Hanks Bar & Restaurant - Camden, NJ, 2.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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