The sign out front says “best seafood in town.” And that just might be true in Wyoming, where Ernie T’s Fine Food & Spirits is knocking ‘em dead with really good chowder, clam cakes, stuffies and so much more.
This “wee friendly pub” is a small-town roadhouse, often jammed with locals rooting for the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and, come summer, the Red Sox. A small dining area with comfy booths surrounds the raised bar, and a side room has pub-height tables. Plenty of flat-screen TVs guarantee everyone a view of the game, whatever the season. The walls are covered with sports memorabilia, and it’s all for sale. If you’re wondering who Ernie T is, he isn’t a famous athlete, but the father of one of the owners.
We ducked in on a cold Wednesday night but warmed up quickly with a sincere greeting from the hostess and a bright smile from Kelly, our server. I was craving seafood and, with my fingers crossed, I ordered the Chowder and Clam Cakes (a special that night at $6.99), and Stuffed Quahogs ($4.99 for two) for the first course, in preparation for my main course of Pan-Seared Salmon ($12.99). My meat-and-potatoes husband went the meat-lovers route and ordered the char-broiled Rib Eye ($15.99).
After one sip of the chowder, I felt like yelling “touchdown.” And the rest of my seafood excursion was a slam dunk. The New England clam chowder was very thick, creamy, and flavorful with plenty of chopped clams and chunks of tender potatoes. The clam cakes were golden brown pillows of fried dough studded with bits of chopped clams. The stuffies were almost fluffy and full of spicy clam flavor. The salmon – a rather small serving but adequate considering everything else I had eaten – was overcooked, yet still delicious. It came with what the menu said was béarnaise sauce, which was good, but it didn’t taste like any béarnaise sauce I’ve ever had before. As a side, I opted for penne pasta done simply with melted butter. For me, that is pure comfort food. On the side were more whole green beans than I could ever eat.
On the other side of the table, the 14-ounce tender rib eye was a big hit, served with really good mashed potatoes and more of those sautéed green beans, the vegetable of the day. Again, it was all more than a person should eat, and we ended up taking home a good-sized piece of meat, allegedly for the dog. (All I could think of was steak and eggs in the morning.)
The depth of the menu at Ernie T’s is surprising. For a modest sports bar, there’s much to consider having. Among the salads, the salmon Caesar salad is tempting, especially the Cajun blackened version, if you’re trying to eat healthy in this new year. But if you’re not worried about calories, the possibilities are boundless: Italian dishes such as chicken parmesan, fish & chips and fried scallops, and all kinds of meats to please you, including filet mignon, grilled pork chops and even a traditional turkey dinner. Prime rib is available on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday it’s an all-you-can-eat roasted chicken extravaganza. Nightly specials range from lobster mac and cheese to Asian stir-fry dishes.
Other dishes that we sampled recently include satisfying sandwiches for lunch and even more delectable pasta dishes for dinner. The Italian Grinder ($6.99) was stuffed with ham, Genoa salami, mortadella, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, hot peppers, lettuce, tomato and onions. A little too much shredded lettuce for my taste, but that was easily rectified. The Veal Parmesan Grinder ($9.99) with a lightly breaded “real veal” cutlet, gravy and melted provolone was a bit messy to eat, but that’s what napkins are for. By the way, “gravy” at Ernie T’s is the family’s recipe for a zesty Italian tomato sauce. With these sandwiches, we had regular French fries with one and sweet potato fries with the other. Both kinds of fries met our high standards.
The pasta dishes we had were excellent, especially the Chicken Broccoli Alfredo ($11.99) with plenty of sautéed chunks of chicken and broccoli florets over al dente penne pasta with a decadent alfredo sauce. We also liked the Sweet Italian Sausage & Pasta ($8.99) with more of that family gravy over linguine.
We found a big difference in the desserts ($5 each) we had at Ernie T’s. The Banana Cream Pie was a home run, a substantial serving layered with plenty of sweet cream, fresh bananas and a very good crust. The much-anticipated but rather meager slice of Custard Pie looked very homemade (not that that’s a bad thing) and left us wanting more and wishing it was a bit sweeter.
The winning team at Ernie T’s puts out really good food, and for the most part, at a fair price. For sports fans, it’s right in your league.