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Appearances Aside, You'll Find Above-Average Grub at Gruben's

This downtown Plainfield business has a family-friendly menu with lots of burger, sandwich and pizza options.

Don’t let the appearance of this place fool you. Yes, it’s definitely a bar setting and at night, no doubt about it, it’s a hopping joint, but you’d be making a mistake if that you kept that from grabbing a meal here. There are no menu surprises – the usual array of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and pizza – but it’s above-average grub, especially for what you’ll find in similar places. Plus, it’s in a great location on Plainfield’s downtown Lockport Street. 

Decor: The opposite of fancy. It’s a fairly utilitarian space – one half of the room devoted to a more traditional drinking space, including a bar that runs the length of room and a half dozen or so bar tables with stools, and the other a dining room that can seat maybe 50 or 75 people. The tables are covered in plastic tablecloths, the floor is well-worn hardwood and simple vinyl squares, and a small stage sits in one corner. Perhaps the nicest spots are the two booths that look out onto Lockport Street, the windows big enough to let in lots of natural light.

Appetizers: No big shockers here. You’ll find the usual array of nachos, chicken wings, fried mushrooms, chips and salsa, and so on. However, many of the options – including the mini Gruben sliders and the chicken caprese minis – come with chips and provide just as much food as had you ordered a sandwich. Price-wise, the best deal in the simple stuff, such as garlic bread ($1.99/two pieces), chili ($2.99/cup) and the soup of the day ($2.99/cup). Otherwise, expect to drop anywhere from $3.95 to $10.95. We sampled the black angus steak melts ($9.95) – three generously stacked sliders that were nicely prepared and not greasy.

Entrees: Again, no huge surprises here: eight burger options ($8.99-$9.49), a dozen or so sandwiches, five kinds of tacos and salads ($8.99-$9.19) , 7-, 12- and 16-inch pizzas (starting at $5.99) and five dinner entrees, including a grilled tilapia, pork chops and chicken bruschetta pasta ($10.95-$11.95). One nice thing about the Uptown Tap is that instead of having to go with the typical fries, you can choose from a large variety of sides, including rice pilaf, grilled zucchini and onions, a house salad, steamed veggies, tater tots, mashed potatoes and sweet potato fries.

We tried the bleu burger (with bleu cheese, bacon and mushrooms, $9.29) and  thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a hearty handful, and didn’t stint on the toppings, including slices of red onion. The tater tots were a bit heavy on the salt, but the sweet potato fries excellent. We also sampled the chicken caprese sandwich ($8.95), which was well-prepared and -presented, and the grilled salmon entrée ($10.95), which we ordered with steamed veggies. The fish, alas, was a bit on the dry side, but it was a large serving and the broccoli, carrots and cauliflowers plentiful.

Children: There is a children’s menu, so don’t be afraid that it’s not a kid-friendly place. There are three choices – chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and grilled cheese and fries – for $5.95, drink included.

Desserts: Your choices are turtle sundae, red velvet cake, key lime pie and chocolate cake.

Service: Attentive. The waitress asked ahead of time if all of the orders would be on one tab, rather than just assuming it would be, and often returned to make sure everyone had what they needed. The only complaint would be that meals were brought out as prepared rather than being served at once. Fortunately, there was not a huge time gap, avoiding that uncomfortable experience of some folks having finished half their meal before other orders arrived.

Address: 24035 W. Lockport St., Plainfield

Phone: 815-436-9395

Cost: $$

Anita February 18, 2011 at 02:08 PM
My husband and I stopped in last Saturday for dinner for the first time in a very long time - the food and service was excellent - it was like old times! We are looking forward to going back!
Antionette Taylor-Thomas February 18, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Anita, the food was filling. I think it's worth dining when traveling to or through Plainfield.

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