The idea behind this series is fairly simple: My girlfriend and I will go out to eat at a Chattanooga-area restaurant and then describe our dining experience there. Keep in mind that this is not a food review per se, but instead an attempt to relate to readers our single, one-time experience at a restaurant. It just is what it is, as they say. There will also be pictures. Lots of pictures.
I am a 30-year-old voracious eater of anything weird, while my girlfriend, age 25, is the complete opposite. This makes dining for us a strange affair. I enjoy a tremendous amount of flavor and complexity, but her M.O. is “simple, no frills.” These dining adventures will test both of us at various restaurants around Chattanooga. This week, we visited Magoo’s in East Ridge for some quality bar food.
Think of anything that could possibly be associated with a bar and Magoo’s has it. Dart boards, nightly specials, beer (obviously), good food and one of those stuffed animal claw machines for the kids. Oh, by the way, Magoo’s is also a family-friendly restaurant in addition to being one of the more happening nightspots in East Ridge. Located directly in front of the now abandoned AMF bowling center, Magoo’s has clinged to life, in part, because of the friendly staff and quality food. Magoo’s is always having some sort of benefit or themed-party to raise money for the community. The entire restaurant has a very communal feel to it, but as outsiders we still felt welcome. Magoo’s is also home to Keller’s Grilled Wings every Monday night, and regular karaoke and trivia games. Lauren and I visited Magoo’s on Tuesday night and experienced a delicious meal and endearingly awkward service.
The first thing we noticed when we walked into Magoo’s was how crowded the island bar was at 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night. People were slinging back brews and an adult alternative playlist (The Cranberries, Guns n’ Roses, etc.) blasted from two gigantic speakers. We decided to sit in the “dart room” and David Sherrill (owner?) introduced us to our server for the night, a young man named Alex. To say Alex was “green” would be a vast understatement. I would be surprised if this wasn’t his first night on the job. Knowing this, we immediately decided to cut him as much slack as possible from our end. We’ve all been in Alex’s position before: first day on the job, nervous, wanting to make a good impression but not having any clue as to what we’re doing. Alex’s lack of tact and fumbling was part of what made our quick dinner at Magoo’s memorable. I ordered a Bud Light draught and Lauren, always quick with the wild hair ideas, decided to order a glass of water. What do you say about a Bud Light that hasn’t been said before? My glass was cold, but the beer wasn’t as cold which made for an interesting combination. It should also be noted that my beer mug had a noticeable chip in the rim of the glass. I only had a single beer whereas I could normally consume three.
Having missed Keller’s Grilled Wings on Monday night, I still decided to eat some wings regardless of the chef. Lauren was hellbent on having a burger. Other items of note on the menu include an array of appetizers like cheese sticks and the new fried pickle basket. The wing selections on the menu are a little confusing. They are listed as both “boneless” and “buffalo,” but sauces are only listed under the boneless, so I was unsure if I was allowed to, say, order lemon pepper “buffalo” wings without the “buffalo.” Alex wasn’t sure either. Lauren’s burger arrived with a mountain of fries. My “lemon pepper” wings arrived as “buffalo” wings and I had to send them back. Alex, ever the dear, was extremely apologetic and I had my fresh lemon pepper wings with bleu cheese dressing in less than five minutes after I’d sent them back. Alex apologized to me, saying that he’d entered them into the computer wrong and he apologized for the inconvenience. You’re going to go far, kid. Good job. Lauren’s burger was VERY good. She said the meat was cooked perfectly, though the fries left much to be desired—they were obviously the frozen crinkle version. As for my wings, the lemon pepper seasoning (my favorite) was well-distributed and I was satisfied. The wings here are larger than other restaurants. You get 10 per order, but I could only finish seven of them before I tapped out. Lauren commented that her burger was “surprisingly delicious.”
Would we go back?
Despite the novice service and mix-up with our order, Lauren and I are anxious to return to Magoo’s again. That doesn’t mean we’ll be joining the nightly regulars, but I could see us sideling up to the bar on a crisp evening for a few good beers and laughs. Because, really, how can you not laugh while inside a place named after Mr. Magoo. We can recommend Magoo’s so long as you’re able to quell your expectation about the service. Give Alex a couple of weeks and you probably won’t notice a thing.
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