[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
December 17 - 24, 1999

[Food Reviews]

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Finder's Pub

We can't resist the blue blitz burger

by Margaret LeRoux

Finder's Pub
171 West Boylston Street
West Boylston

2-10 p.m.
11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.

Major credit cards
Full bar
Handicap accessible

Finder's Pub, located in the former Beaman's Tavern in West Boylston, is aptly named. But I don't think for the reason the owners intended. It's a bit of a challenge to find your way to a table if you're a non-smoker. The entrance leads you to a wall -- not so welcoming -- and a sign that invites you to "finder" your own table and menu, and a waitress will "finder" you. We sought directions from a map mounted on the wall, and found our space -- the back room with a few tables, only two other groups of diners, and three big TV screens. Strange that non-smokers are given such short shrift, especially since the former Beaman's managed a more-equitable division of smoking and non-smoking sections.

The atmosphere is very casual, with Keno for the gamblers and game shows for the rest of us. The back room features wall-mounted, sepia-toned photos of Wachusett Reservoir construction. We found them a lot more interesting than the TV was.

Before we could feel too lonely, though, a cheerful waitress found us and offered a basket of popcorn. We declined, remembering past ventures when we ate our fill, then had no room for dinner. I've never understood the logic of serving popcorn as an appetizer, especially when the main courses are as large as they are at Finder's.

There are lots of pub-style appetizers: nachos ($6.25), fried mozzarella chunks ($4.50), onion rings ($4.50), and buffalo chicken ($6.50). And there are several surprises; I wouldn't have expected bacon-wrapped scallops ($6.50), shrimp in a lemon sauce over rice pilaf ($6.95), sirloin teriyaki strips ($5.50), or crab cakes ($5.95). Add a garden salad ($1.95), and you could have a meal for less than $10.

We shared a plate of pita chips with crab meat and shrimp dip ($5.95). The pita was soft rather than crisp, but that's my only complaint. The dip was very tasty, with chunks of crabmeat and melted jack cheese.

Main-course offerings include several salads, lots of sandwiches, burgers, and a few examples of home cooking. The night we dined, specials included pot roast and mashed potatoes ($7.25) and chicken pot pie ($6.50). On Saturday, the feature is prime rib ($8.95). Other good bets for those who crave basic cooking are meatloaf ($6.50); liver, bacon, and onions ($6.95); and beans, franks, and brown bread ($5.25).

Dinner salads include chef's ($6.95) and Caesar ($3.95) -- with grilled chicken ($7.50) or shrimp and lobster ($8.95). Sandwiches range from Reuben ($4.95) to club ($6.25), and include your choice of French fries, chips, or cole slaw. Among the featured sandwiches is chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, roasted peppers, and mozzarella cheese ($6.75).

I sampled the clam chowder ($2.95 for a cup; $3.50 for a bowl) and found it very good. It was thick without being too heavy, and loaded with clams. I spotted Cobb salad ($7.75), unusual in a pub, and was satisfied with Finder's version. The classic Cobb, named for the owner of the Brown Derby in Hollywood in the 1930s, is a rich mixture of finely chopped chicken, avocado, bacon, Roquefort cheese, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and lettuce. Finder's interpretation doesn't have avocado, Roquefort, or hard-boiled eggs; grated cheddar cheese and sliced almonds have been added to the basic ingredients. With the addition of blue cheese dressing it was tasty.

One of my dining companions was hankering for a burger and Finder's blue blitz ($5.75) was everything he wanted. A big, thick patty was grilled medium-rare (my companion likes to live dangerously) and topped with blue cheese and two strips of bacon. The French fries were only okay. In fact, we've hit a string of limp fries lately. Have any of you readers found exceptional fries? Let me know (worcester-feedback[a]phx.com) and I'll clue in the rest of you.

My other companion's choice, chicken and broccoli Alfredo ($7.50), was both rich and ample enough for us all to share. Garlic toast came on the side; unfortunately, the garlic was burned to a crisp.

Our bill came to a very reasonable $48.21.


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