The wings, chicken tenders and jalape–o stuffed shrimp crowded the plate of the Meaty Sampler Platter that my wife and I ordered at the Pickle Barrel Cafe & Sports Pub.
It was a split decision. The wings really brought the heat and the tenders tested positive. But the stuffed shrimp missed the jumper. And not only could I not taste the jalape–os, there didn't seem to be much shrimp there either. Just batter, batter, batter, batter.
Atmosphere-wise, the PBC had its game face on. There were TVs tuned to sports channels and jerseys and photos of players hanging on the walls. You had to respect their athleticism.
The sampler mostly eaten, I brushed myself away from the plate. My coffee had arrived.
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In a glass. In a glass with a stem. FUUUUUMMMMMMBBBBLE!
I'm the go-to guy for joe. And every coffee nut knows the joe comes in a mug. This was a service error.
Next we got our order of the cafe's "signature" fried pickles. It was crunch-time. The batter was up - way up. So much batter that the pickle popped out, leaving me with a handful of ... well, batter. Swing and a miss, here.
Then, suddenly, the PBC got off the schneid. The main entrees arrived and we were in winner's circle. My doubles partner and I both ordered one of their Bunless Specialities - the hamburger steak for me and the grilled grouper for her.
One negative about the grouper. You have to dig deep to get at the fish. It was loaded with cheese. And it didn't need it. It was one of the best pound-for-pound biters I've ever had.
Choosing sides, my wife got a really well-made salad and I had pork and beans right off the hot stove. Solid, tasty battery mates for the main dishes.
The PBC's line-up also includes chips, onion rings, cheesesticks, soups, burgers and melts. You can even buy a basket - of wings, chicken fingers, shrimp or grouper.
With the meal done, it was gut-check time. Mine felt good. And the cost is fair. A dinner for two is in the ballpark of $30.
They just need to retire that batter. Some of it at least.
Pickle Barrel Cafe & Sports Pub
1888 N. Columbia St., Milledgeville
Phone: (478) 452-1960
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Price range: Up to a $12.99 sampler plate
Payment: Cash, credit card, debit
Reservations: Yes (for parties of six or more)
Kids menu: Yes
Noise level: Moderate
Latest health rating: 100
Wheelchair accessible: Yes