Feb 28, 2018

JT's Pub: An old place with a new name, a great burger, fancy fries, a nameless drink and a useful ladies' room

JT's: Around the corner from Midland Street
The hairy guy's report:

Midland Street isn't as hopping as it once was. 

O'Hare's, one of the stalwart bars of the entertainment strip, has closed, with little notice as best we could tell. (We peeked in the front window and found the upside-down Christmas tree still on the ceiling, fully decorated.) The River Rock is open but actively for sale. A couple of recent stops at VNO down the street (including a Saturday night) found it far from packed.

Maybe nighttime rowdiness has led people to look elsewhere, such as newer restaurant/bars across the river. A serious street reconstruction project last year likely didn't help.

The street work did widen the sidewalks, cutting parking but adding space for outdoor tables -- though we wonder how many there'll be. (Maybe Unclaimed Freight, the big hardware store, could set up nice seating to serve nuts and bolts. At Cops and Doughnuts, where workers wear "inmate" shirts, those considered low flight risks could serve coffee and doughnuts out front.) 

So it was a surprise to notice last fall that a new place, JT's Pub, had opened around the corner.

In early February, MLive ran a story headlined "Family-owned JT's Pub opens on Bay City's West Side." Apparently, it's still news five months later that something happened. Oh, well.

This is a space on Linn that dates way back. It was last occupied by Cafe Cremosi (the Italian restaurant that's now part of the nearby Lumber Barons complex) and, before that, Steamer's
Inside JT's
Pub. Earlier, since the mid-1950s, it was Club 108. City directories list a saloon at that address at least as far back as 1893.

What we found was, frankly, way classier than we expected.

The menu is what might be considered upscale bar food, with a hamburger ($9) that's among the best in town -- artfully piled with lettuce, tomato, red onion and long slices of pickle spears. The fries are thin and crunchy, and come sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and parsley. The lettuce is leaf lettuce, not the usual iceberg. ("The lettuce is beautiful, and you can quote me," Mrs. Hairy Guy said. Done.)   

Also available are salads, sandwiches, wings, chili, nachos and tacos. A smoked brisket sandwich is $12. There are daily specials.

The bar has everything from sour apple pucker to top-shelf bourbons, such as Basil Hayden's (at
Tap beer menu
$8 a shot) and Eagle Rare. A fine and large Manhattan, made with well whiskey and a mashed cherry, cost $4.

But Holly, one of the bartenders, says most of the business is "pretty basic stuff" -- a lot of beer along with some liquor.

Ten beers are on tap, with a rotating list that included something called Crankers Coconut Porter. Harry went for Cabin Fever Brown Ale, which sounded appropriate for his state of mind toward the end of winter. Prices are $4.50 for tall (22-ounce) domestics up to $7 for craft brews. A pint of Bud Light was $3.50. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m., with $1 off well drinks and domestic drafts.

We inquired about any sort of house drink. There is none. But Johna (yes, that's how she spells it), another bartender, offered her favorite -- a no-name mixture of rum and Sprite with a splash of cranberry juice. She said she came up with it at a wedding. So being game, we asked for one. It
Johna and nameless drink
came with a slice of lime and made with Bacardi at $5. It was good, though we can't imagine ever thinking to ask for it again.

The place is clean. There's a nice wooden bar. There are no games, except for those on the numerous TVs, which show mainly sports. The tables are solid. The wooden deck out back looks like a great place that's just waiting for summer.

JT's opens at 11 a.m. Monday-Saturday and stays open till 10 or 11 p.m. during the week but till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. It's closed Sundays.

Some early commenters on Facebook made a point of praising the women's restroom at JT's ("Let's hope it's not like the Willew," wrote one). Mrs. Hairy Guy, enlisted to investigate, reports that it's well tiled and that the outside door has a hook. "If you want to have sex in the bathroom, you could just lock the door," she says. You gotta like the way she thinks.

See Doc's report on JT's: 10 things (mostly) about JT's: Inventive drinks, great food, college football history, good hosts and more

  The particulars:
  JT's Pub
  108 N. Linn

No comments: