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In the Moog: odd pub, good grub

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After opening the door to Moogs Place, which shares a building with Fisher Auto Parts next to the Bijou theater in Morrisville, I entered a dimly lit, small dining room. Goldenrod yellow walls did nothing to brighten the place. The people seated at tables on the opposite wall looked up disapprovingly from their huddled conversations and beer. The full bar in the back stood guard between the kitchen and the guests. A man sat cross legged on the rough, wooden, wide-planked floor under the bar counter.

 
My friend and I found a seat close to the low-rise stage in the front corner of the restaurant. There were Christmas lights strung lazily across the two walls behind the stage. A drum kit, microphone and a couple music stands took up almost all of the stage’s capacity.

 
The waiter, who wore Carhartt pants, a tan tshirt and a well-worn ball cap, came over to our table with a smile, waters and menus. He suggested the fried pickles, his favorite, for an appetizer. We ordered them and waited.

 
The conversations and people around us could have been a picture of hardworking Vermont. people discussing their families, farms, physical labor and maple sugaring. Men and women from older generations sat in pairs and groups. With Carhartts and jeans, plaid flannel shirts, hiking boots and workboots, Moog’s seemed to be the hangout spot for people who had just punched out of work.

 
One man wore a fedora that had pins representing the Democratic party, a mini Gay Pride flag pinned to the back and several long feathers stuck into the fabric. The loud mix of voices made the whole place seem smaller but cozier.

 
The fried pickles arrived on a white plate. They sat in a stacked circle atop a bed of fresh arugula lettuce. In the center of the circle was a small plastic container holding dill ranch. The pickles were still firm and crunchy inside the breading and were satisfyingly warm. The breading that encased the pickles was fried to a tender crisp and was spiced heavily. Peppercorn added a little heat. The dill ranch not only complemented the dill pickles but also cooled the slight heat in the breading.

 
Moogs Place serves pub fare as their “main course” dishes. The menu offers has mac and cheese, veggie burgers, classic burgers, chicken and seafood. The most popular sandwich is the Island Chicken Sammy. People also love the classic fish and chips.

 
The Island Chicken Sammy had a lot of flavors. The grilled pineapple was still crunchy and sweet. The bacon under the pineapple was chewy but with crispy edges. The grilled chicken was moist, not dry as some grilled chicken gets. Melted cheddar cheese oozed underneath the chicken. The whole thing was stacked inside of a soft and toasted bun, the top of which had melted butter brushed onto it, making the crowning point shine in the neon light coming from the beer sign in the window. This sizeable sandwich was served on a white plate, making the bun’s dark brown color stand out, with ketchup and tartar sauce in plastic containers and a pile of fries.

 
The fish and chips was a delightful choice. The fried haddock was the length of the white oval plate and lay atop a pile of fries. The haddock was flaky with a strong flavor but was a little on the dry side. It was coated in a salty breading fried into a perfect crunch while still having some tenderness.

 
Homemade tartar sauce came with the dish, as well as lemons, which made it all come together. The French fries were mostly soft with a little bit of crunch on the ends. After frying, they were seasoned with coarse grained salt and other seasonings. The fries tasted great with and without ketchup.

 
At 9 p.m., open mic night started. The entire unwelcoming vibe of Moogs Place changed into that of family and openness. Incredibly talented, local musicians got up on the low-rise stage to share, most playing acoustic guitars. People cheered and clapped while some sang along. Music ranged from covers of Dolly Parton to the Grateful Dead, from Waylon Jennings to U2.

 
Mavis O’Grady stole the show with her downhome Vermont comedy act. She got into character and shared laughable stories about her dimwitted family members. The crowd was in stitches.

 
After some entertainment, we ordered a brownie sundae for dessert. It came with the brownie centered on the plate, a scoop of vanilla ice cream slowly melting atop it, two towers of whipped cream on either side, and hot fudge drizzled in a zig zag over the whole display. The homemade brownie was rich and gooey. Its heat melted the smooth vanilla ice cream, making the whole thing a delicious mess and the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

 
Prices are moderate, averaging about $12 for pub fare. Our tab, which included appetizer, two entrees and dessert plus a generous tip came to $50.00.

 
All things considered, Moogs Place is rough around the edges but bursts with tasty food, great service and great atmosphere at certain times.

 
The restaurant’s full menu can be found on their website, moogsplace.com.

 
They are open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Open mic night happens Thursday nights from around 9 p.m. until closing. However, live music can typically be found at Moogs on any given night.

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In the Moog: odd pub, good grub