Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hal's Bar & Grill

Hal's Bar & Grill is located on Babcock Blvd in the North Hills. Having driven by the place every day for the past few years I always had planned on trying out Hal's, but never seemed to get around to it. Word of mouth has been mixed about Hal's. From what I learned it really seemed to be hit or miss depending on what you ordered. One of the warnings told me to avoid the hoagies because of the minuscule amount of toppings. As you will read, I should have heeded that advice.

 Upon entering Hal's we were quickly seated. Hal's is separated into a dining section and a bar which has a few big screen TVs and an impressive display of alcohol choices. The beer selection is very impressive and is one of the best you will find at a bar in the North Hills. The prices were very reasonable as well, even for imports such as Pilsner Urquell and Hoegarden which came in around $4.00 a bottle. My eating companions and I put in our order which included Salt and Pepper Calamari, Mushroom and Brie Bisque, Walnut Chicken Salad, Fish Sandwich, and the Kielbasa Grinder.
Salt and Pepper Calamari $9.00
   The Salt and Pepper Calamari came out lightly coated and fried perfectly as to still be tender. The dipping sauce however was just plain Kikkoman Teriyaki which was just to salty. A little more inspiration in the dipping sauce such as a sweet Thai chili sauce or a garlic aioli would have helped out this dish. Fried calamari is a pretty neutral flavored dish and so much depends on it having a good dipping sauce to add flavor.
Mushroom and Brie Bisque $4.00
  The Mushroom and Brie was the highlight of my meal. The soup had tasty chunks of mushrooms and the creamy broth was tangy with a taste of brie in the background. One of the better soups I have had and a pleasant surprise.

Walnut Chicken Salad $10.00

 The Walnut Chicken Salad came with sliced chicken on a bed of greens including sliced apple and grapes. A nice layer of blue cheese and walnuts was also included. Nothing bad to say about this salad. The chicken was perfectly cooked and everything was fresh.

Fried Cod Sandwich $8.00
  The Fried Cod sandwich was in the typical Pittsburgh fashion of being so big that it overflowed off the bun. The fish was fried in a nice panko style breading and had a pleasant crunch. The Sweet potato fries that accompanied the sandwich were crispy with a touch of sweetness. This was a pretty good fish sandwich, and I found it to be of better quality then the popular fish sandwich served at the North Park Lounge.

Kielbasa Grinder $8.00
 Well the best thing about this sandwich was the onion rings that accompanied it. The rings were lightly battered and fried to perfection. The sandwich was a disgrace. The kielbasa wound up being a thin sliced layer of something that resembled cooked salami. There was a big heap of sauerkraut with a thousand island style dressing on top. Biting into the sandwich was like biting into a sauerkraut hoagie. You could not even taste the so called kielbasa as there was barely any on the sandwich. The hoagie roll was not fresh either. This is easily the worst sandwich I have had in recent memory.

  So the trip to Hals's was a mixed bag. Some of the offerings such as the soup and fish were very good, while the hoagie was just plain terrible. The beer prices at Hal's are very reasonable and the selection was impressive. Oh, and they make their own Ranch Dressing which is always important.
 Would I go back to Hal's? Sure, especially if just to have some beers or drinks. Just remember to stay away from most of their sandwiches and you will be alright.

Hal's Bar & Grill

Salt and Pepper Calamari: 6.5/10

Mushroom and Brie Bisque: 9/10

Walnut Chicken Salad:  7/10

Fried Cod Sandwich: 7/10

Kielbasa Grinder: 1/10 (Onion rings brought it up to a 1)

Overall: 7/10

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