Friday, July 15, 2011

Bear's Den, Charleston, WV -- PREVIEW

One of the more odd places for a bar I have seen in a while...it's in the basement of this office building...and it closes for the day at 6:00 P.M.  Other than that, it's a great little place if you ever find yourself stranded in Charleston, West Virginia. Details tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zoggs, Rehoboth Beach, DE -- REVIEW

Looks good so far Johnny Wad!
1 Wilmington Avenue

Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971-2925
(302) 227-7660

For the first time, we have a guest writer for HitThatDive!  Fellow dive-bar-hopper, wing-eater, beer-drinking-buddy and all around swell guy Johnny Wad took a few moments from his trip to the Rehoboth Beach to write up a review of a place called Zoggs. Wads...the dirty bar floor is yours...

It’s a Tiki Bar. No wait, it’s a Sports Bar. No, it’s a seafood place. Oh, wait a minute; it’s a place to see live music. It’s all of those things. It’s Zoggs, and it’s where I want to die. Nestled in an alley behind Gus’ Diner in Rehoboth Beach, DE (another great dive, but that’s a story for another time), Zoggs is that rarest of places, a dive that’s held on as the rest of the world has gone corporate.

I'd belly up to that bar
I was suspicious of any place that close to the Boardwalk, but a liver is a terrible thing not to waste, so I dove right in.

First Impressions: Zoggs is hidden behind two other establishments, a blue awning sticking out from an alley the only clue it’s there. Seclusion is always a good sign for a dive, which is impressive for a place less than 50 feet from the Rehoboth Boardwalk.

The Bar(s): There are actually 2, not bad for a small structure. Upon entering the alley you enter the courtyard tiki bar. Steel Drum Jimmy plays most days, providing a mix of Buffett, reggae, and calypso. It set’s a perfect atmosphere for the place.

Now we're talkin'!
Inside is the sports bar. Dimly lit, over decorated in odd pieces, and springing to life from the imagination of any man who’s been through a mid life crisis, it like the basement I’ve drooled over for most of my adult life. Games, flatscreens and seating abounds.

The Crowd: Like any beach, it’s a real mix. Not quite the crowd in the “Star Wars” cantina, but not far off. Middle-aged guys in Hawaiian shirts, buzzed college kids, families there for the weekend, cougars in very revealing outfits (you know you can’t look away), and one guy in the corner who may or may not be the drummer Credence Clearwater Revival. Despite this, the atmosphere is light and airy. The dinner hour is particularly family friendly, with Steel Drum Jimmy approachable by kids. As the night wears on and the kiddies are in bed, the place takes on a younger, drinking vibe, but still easygoing and laid back.

50/50 he got lucky
Service: Like any place at the beach, the staff seems to glide by without a care in the world, and, oh, they also take your orders. I especially liked the tattoo our waitress had that read “I am both sides of the story” on her forearm. I didn’t get it, but it’s hot. It must be something about living on the ocean, but they were all tanned and young, and I hated all of them for it. But they were good. The true test of service is how they react to a screw-up. My order was wrong, not incredibly so, but it was replaced very quickly, and the waitress apologized profusely and gave me a free beer, so it was win-win. The bartenders were fast, friendly, and kept it light.

Prices: It’s the beach, so I expected to be gouged. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Weekly specials include $2 beers and $3 rails. Nuff said. The food was affordable, with both a dinner and bar menu.

Food: Where to begin? Let’s try alphabetically. They have alligator.

Just cram it into the wall
Seriously, they have fried alligator as an appetizer. I don’t know if you’ve ever had alligator, but I’d kill for it. The rest of the menu is a hodgepodge of fish (including shark, always a pleasure), shellfish, jerk chicken dishes, and standard bar fare (burgers and wings). Highlights include a separate section for tacos (8, including 4 fish), multiple jerked meat dishes, 10 types of salads, and a Mako shark steak topped with cold crab. Not to mention a crab dip in a bead bowl. I’m fat thinking about it.

And on the beverage side, there is a rum menu. How much rum? Try over 100 flavors from 18 different countries, including Cuba, which is a fabulous forbidden fruit.

But seriously, they had me at alligator.

Not the World's biggest crowd
Entertainment: Ever want a game room in the basement growing up? Pool? Foosball? Darts? Zoggs has them all, as well as Big Buck Hunter and Golden Tee. For such a small place, that’s a lot of bar fun. Buzztime Trivia is a regular feature, which is always nice.

But the real crown jewel is Steel Drum Jimmy. Playing almost nightly, the guy is a real treasure. Bouncing between buffet, Marley, and what could swear was a Broadway show tune, Jimmy keeps it light and easy, so that you just want to keep on drinking. He’s great with kids, drops a few jokes, and makes you wish you were him.

Restrooms: It’s a toilet in a beach bar, so I was prepared for the worst. I was please that it was just plain mediocre. It’s a single room, so there’s no company in there with you, but the dampness was a bit off-putting. Just get in and out and back to the bar.

How Far Did My $20 Go: In a town where meter parking is $1.50 an hour, Soda’s cost $4 at a stand, and money is seemingly sucked out of your pockets, Zoggs is an Oasis. I had alligator, 3 beers, a game of pool and a game of foosball. Add in the free beer for the food mix-up, and yours truly did alright.

Other Observations: If I’m gushing, it’s because the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk has lost some if it’s cheap charm. But Zoggs is holding tightly to its roots, keeping it affordable and fun. And again, if you don’t smile at steel drums, you must be dead.

Final Thoughts: Rehoboth restaurants on 4th of July weekend are cattle calls, with lines out the window for overpriced chow. Hopefully those reading this review won’t overwhelm my little secret alleyway and I can still have a cheap Landshark every now and again.

But, really, do have the alligator.

DIVE-O-METER
9




Nice work Johnny Wad!!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

He's Back...

After a month off for my yearly detox (and general well-being) I am back on the bar beat.  Coming this week...new reviews, more drinking, and our first-ever guest review.  Stay tuned (literally and figuratively).