Scouting report: Two Bucks
One look at the menu at Two Bucks, which replaced Dogs Bollocks at 2321 N. Murray Ave., and I thought, "my lead is shot."
While I expected to be able to report back to you that like the creators of "The Never Ending Story," the people behind "Two Bucks" would be guilty of misleading the public. C'mon, what could cost $2 in 2012?
You'd be surprised and so was I ... pleasantly.
Cup of soup? $2
Two Buck Fries? $2
Beer battered pickle chips and spears? $2
Slides of all kinds? You guessed it, $2 (though the price edges up a bit if you mix and match)
But price point isn't really what Two Bucks has going for it.
The old space has been further spruced up a bit, dark wood giving way to brighter colors. And there's a string of welcoming sidewalk tables, with umbrellas, perfect for a summer's day.
The food, while reasonably priced even when not clocking in at $2, is tasty. It's nothing fancy schmancy, but it's hearty bar food done with flair and with care. All of the fried stuff is hand battered and breaded for example.
Most interesting is the lengthy sliders menu.
Four bucks gets you a pair and you can trade six bucks for three. Mix and match, however, and it'll cost you an extra buck. The options abound, so I couldn't help but mix it up.
I chose a piquant Black and Blue Burger with blue cheese and a lightly spiced cajun aioli, a mini Johnsonville brat with my preferred toppings – mustard and sauerkraut (without my even asking; as if they knew I was coming) – and a Fish Fry, that married a battered cod and Two Bucks slaw on the best of three three buns (yes, each came with a different bun!).
I also sampled the calamari, which had a great, crispy batter on it and more of that cajun aioli, which was a nice complement. And how could I resist white and yellow cheddar cheese curds in a Spotted Cow batter? Of course, I couldn't, so I had them and they were sinfully good though I wasn't wowed by the accompanying marinara, which tended to mask the delicious saltiness of the cheese.
At the moment there's also a small summer menu that includes chicken tortilla soup ($3), a Caprese salad ($5, though you can add chicken or salmon), a turkey BLT wrap ($5), a poached salmon salad ($8) and a pair of crab cakes with orange jalapeno slaw ($9).
Some other apps on the regular menu include a smoked gouda mac and cheese that arrives in an unusually arranged plating, and Riverwest Stein battered onion rings. The menu includes some wraps, four flatbread options, a few salads and boneless wings ($4 for a half-order, $7 for a full order). I'll be back to try the ribs soon.
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