Mollie's Public House
WHERE: 31 Forest Ave., Riverside
HOURS: Kitchen from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Bar remains open until midnight Monday through Thursday, until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 10 p.m. Sunday
DRESS CODE: Casual
INFO: www.molliespublichouse.com, 708-447-2233
When I stepped into Mollie's Public House in Riverside, I was in a contrarian mood. Feeling like I had settled into a rut of always ordering the same sorts of meals no matter where I went, I was resolved to try something out of character.
Something I would normally reject out of hand. I perused the menu and forced myself to overlook some pretty enticing options, such as the buffalo wrap, classic Reuben and half-pound burgers. All sounded great, but I needed something different.
Then I came across "Big Bad John." The description read:
"Roasted pork loin wrapped in bacon, stuffed with corned beef and Mollie's sauce topped with cheddar cheese and a pineapple slice, served on a pretzel bun. Accompanied with our hand-cut french fries."
Pork loin. Bacon. Corned beef. Cheddar cheese. With a pineapple slice. I could safely say I'd never eaten anything like it.
My dining companions opted for more standard fare, a burger and the shepherd's pie, and both looked terrific. They're on my to-try list the next time I stop by Mollie's. But the Big Bad John sandwich dwarfed all other food options. It's probably the largest sandwich I've ever attempted to consume. I wanted to finish it – who wants to let pork loin go unfinished? – but it was such a massive amount of food, I couldn't manage it. But I certainly got my money's worth, and my taste buds were pleased by the savory combination of meaty flavors and the occasional hint of pineappley sweetness.
Since my visit, Mollie's has posted a summer menu online that replaces such heavy, cold-weather options with some lighter fare. Most notably, it offers a slew of salad choices, including a grilled vegetable salad with asparagus, squash, zucchini and red pepper, and a fregadero salad (fregadero is Spanish for kitchen sink) that has more ingredients than I have space to list here.
The interior at Mollie's is an authentic pub experience, with lots of dark wood features, but a high enough ceiling that it doesn't feel cramped. There's a sporty vibe with TVs mounted above the bar, and a soccer jersey on display, plus a great outdoor seating area to enjoy the fresh air and ambiance of Riverside's downtown.
Frankly, I don't think I'd get the Big Bad John again, as much as I enjoyed it, because wolfing down that much protein just isn't the norm for me. But given that I had a great experience even while going outside my comfort zone, I'm sure I'll be even happier with some of the options that are more aligned with my typical palate.
Assuming I'm not in a contrarian mood again the next time I drop by, that is.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive experiences will result in published reviews.
(To view the Mystery Diner's photos taken at Ivy, go to http://shawurl.com/nga; visit its website at www.molliespublichouse.com.)