CREATIVE ART'S COVERS ALL THE BASES
Watertown Daily Times
by Pamela White
Published April 16, 2000
Art's Jug, Watertown, does
it all. From the cozy bar to the extremely casual dining rooms to the
frozen dinners available for pickup to the outstanding meals, this
restaurant is covering all the bases. Dress is whatever you feel like
throwing on, but the cuisine is decidedly less informal.
We chose our appetizers
based on our particular fancies that night.
Bypassing shrimp cocktail, hot poppers and clams casino, we went instead
for a couple of dishes that are more difficult to find.
Oysters Rockefeller always
makes me feel extravagant; these were no different. The oyster itself
plays a small part in the charm of this dish, aside from providing the
craggy shell in which this delicacy is housed. A regal stuffing of
spinach, bread crumbs, butter, bacon, mushrooms and herbs with hollandaise
sauce spooned over it creates a fabulous and rich treat.
A suave shrimp pesto blew
me away. The cream-based pesto sauce sang of basil, pine nuts and olive
oil for a heady rush. The creamy pesto was lavishly ladled over angel hair
pasta, roasted red peppers and tiny, plump shrimp. The exotic taste of the
sauce was mesmerizing. The shrimp were juicy, just wonderful, not what I
expected. This generous appetizer was noshed on by four people until it
Less unusual were the
baked chicken wings and drumsticks, basted with a sweet, tangy barbecue
sauce. The flesh on the chicken bones was plentiful. The sauce added a
Salads and bread were
served next. The loaf of good bread had a flour-dusted, crusty exterior
and viable nooks creating an interesting texture.
Salads were simple, boring
iceberg and well-traveled, refrigerated tomatoes. Dressings were
impressive: Bacon ranch was the best, with a smoky, herbed essence. The
peppercorn Parmesan coming in second was hot and creamy. The raspberry
vinaigrette was fruity and tart.
Our success with
appetizers had us anticipating the main courses, but little did we know
how good they would be. Scallops, broiled in butter, had a nutty taste;
judicious use of clarified butter resulted in an exciting depth of flavor.
Flounder was stuffed with
a sensibly herbed dressing. This fish was prepared with consideration;
broiling the mild-mannered fish in butter browned its edges and gave most
bites a crispy accent. A side of pasta came with an acidic red sauce.
A cheeseburger ordered
from the children's menu was done to death. I'm sure it's safer for kids,
but well-done beef is pretty tough. The fries were toasty and golden
brown. Overall, the meal was decent, definitely a favorite of Art's Jug's
A tender filet of beef was
absolutely flooded with crab meat, grilled canned mushrooms and buttery,
rich bearnaise sauce. The beef in the filet maison was tender and
flavorful, and the crab was well- suited as its mate. The mushrooms
suffered due to the canned flavor.
Roasted red potatoes, as a
side dish, were bland and mushy; they lacked a crisp, roasted outer skin.
Split large shrimp,
breaded, fried and covered with provolone and red sauce, were known as
shrimp Parmesan. The taste was classy: juicy shrimp, herbed bread crumbs,
smoky provolone and a sweetly simple tomato sauce. Accompanying mashed
potatoes were dry and crumbly.
We had to try the pizza,
so we voted on Attillio's pizza, a white, super garlicky pizza dotted with
broccoli, red pepper and mushrooms. The crust was splendid, the pastry an
amazing combination of crisp and thick. Unanimous approval met this meal.
After all those richly
seasoned meals, sensible diners would lean toward simple sweets to finish.
Apple crumb, served warm,
showcased tender apples barely covered with butter and brown sugar.
Peanut butter cake was the
dream-come-true of every child who ever wanted to eat the icing straight
from the bowl, forgoing the cake. A thin chocolate cake layered with
creamy peanut butter was surrounded by a desperately thick layer of fudgy
chocolate frosting. Peanuts and chocolate sauce on top finished the
Reese's peanut butter pie
had basically the same combination as the above, but managed to retain a
separate personality. Its sweet pastry crust and dark, semisweet chocolate
filling topped with a chewy, super-sweet peanut butter layer worked toward
this end. Whipped cream, chocolate shavings and peanut butter chips top
The carrot cake was
wonderful. A gingery, moist layer cake was iced with a cream cheese
frosting that had been whipped into a frenzied airiness, heavenly and
smooth. All this was decorated with thin white-chocolate fans.
When we entered the
restaurant, a party of 30 was finishing up their dinners. Many of the
dining room tables were filled already, so we were nervously expecting to
be ignored. Such was not the case. We received professional, helpful,
companionable service, as did everyone else at Art's Jug.
The waitresses worked in
concert to meet diners' needs, food was delivered in a most timely manner
and refills of soda and beer were immediate.
Overall, the food is quite
special. I fear that the salads and the starchy sides are a concession to
diners' expectations that if they are paying for a dinner, a salad - any
salad - and potatoes should be included in the price. I saw them as sour
notes compared to the magnificent dinners.
Your Art's Jug visit can
begin on the Internet at www.artsjug.com, where you can visit state
agencies, newspapers and television Web sites, read local news and check
the weather before you check out the menu.
Art's Jug, 820 Huntington
St., 782-9764, is open from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4
to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Dining areas are
smoke-free; smoking is allowed in the lounge. Wheelchair access is
provided. Credit cards are accepted.
to find out more about Art's Jug? Click Here