I have thought that if I had the ear of a newspaper editor, any newspaper editor, I'd ask for a restaurant review column, but in a small town, that can be risky. I wouldn't approach the job as a way to promote local restaurants. I'd call them as I see them, and locals can be fiercely devoted to their favorite joints, even if those joints are mediocre. So, no review column, but I can speak freely here.
And today, I would like to speak freely about Danny Boy's. Danny Boy's has only four locations, all in northern Ohio, and Husband and I went to the one in Canton last night. I suggested it because a couple of people have recommended it, and I was driving. The general rule is if you're driving, you're choosing the place for dinner.
The atmosphere. The tag line for the place is "Food, Frank, and Fun," and we didn't get it. What does Frank mean? Then we walked in and discovered Frank means Sinatra. The walls are covered with Sinatra-related memorabilia, including his mug shot from Bergen County, New Jersey (we used to live there); and Sinatra music plays beneath the chatter noise. I particularly like the Columbia Records years, so having Sinatra in the background is a good thing, I think.
The bar is a feature in the layout, and there were some slick (or greasy) characters seated there to give the joint atmosphere. I imagined they were Sinatra's aged cousins who had just driven in from Hoboken. The place doesn't offer sugary concoctions from the bar. In fact, there are no drinks listed on the menu at all. The server said, "We have Pepsi products and a full bar. What can I get you?" I liked that and ordered sangria, which, yes, is a little sugary, but it doesn't come with an umbrella or a hat or microbeads that get stuck in the straw. In fact, you don't even need a straw for sangria.
The service. Our server was delightful, attentive without hovering and pleasant without gushing. She answered our questions and cleared the table as we finished with dishes and replaced drinks in a timely manner. I liked her. The servers wear Danny Boy's T-shirts with phrases printed on the back, and one read "Frank Likes Carbs." I knew we were in trouble when I saw it, which leads me to the menu.
The food. I continue to be dumbfounded by restaurants, especially relatively new ones, that pride themselves on extra fat and extra calories and extra-large portions as if these are characteristics to be proud of. I assumed we would all be aware by now that heart disease is the number one killer in America. We go nuts over AIDS and breast cancer, but it's heart disease that's doing us in, so by all means, let's have more potato chips piled with cheese. And when a couple orders garlic bread with marinara, let's make sure they get enough to feed two families. This happened to a couple at the table beside us–they ordered the mountain of garlic bread and then a large Chicago pizza to split between them and their tiny toddler.
Danny Boy's is all about gigantic portions of slop. We flipped through the menu trying to decide what to order, and when the server stepped up with her pencil ready, Husband pointed to a photo in the appetizer section and asked, "What's this a picture of?" because it was indiscernible. It was Bada Bing Buffalo Chips, potato chips drizzled with buffalo sauce and blue cheese and then baked. We'll take it, that and a small Chicago pizza. We used to live there, too, and nothing beats a real, stuffed Chicago pizza. Nothing.
Seriously, I'm not rigid with a low-fat diet, which is evidenced by the mommy pants I so enjoy wearing, and I can enjoy a good burger as much as the next carnivore, but I was startled when our appetizer arrived. It was a pile of chips the size of a pile of the Rat Pack's empties after an all-night party, and we could barely make a dent in it. Husband has a trick—when he has finished dinner, but it looks like he hasn't eaten very much, he shoves what's left to the edge of the plate to make it look like he has eaten more. We couldn't shove the uneaten chips to the side of the platter without causing an avalanche, so we just had to have the server remove the plate.
Thank goodness we ordered a small pizza. It's 10 inches and six slices, and we boxed up 2 1/2 slices to take home. It was good. I'll give them that. But it's not a Chicago pizza as I know Chicago pizza. I would order it again, if I were to go back to Danny Boy's; and if someone were to ask me for a suggestion should they consider going there, I'd say "get the Chicago pizza." But I'm not sure I would recommend the place to anyone, and I'm not sure I would return anytime soon.
I think KFC is a nasty place to buy food, but once a year or so, I crave a piece or two of extra crispy. I rarely order burgers at fast food places, but now and then, I'll get a Junior Bacon Deluxe at Wendy's instead of a salad. I'll add Danny Boy's to this short list of indulgent food places. Maybe one day next year, we'll be driving around and wondering where to go for dinner, and one of us will say let's go to Danny Boy's for a monstrous serving of gloppy, fatty, vegetable-lacking food piled high on a platter so we can walk away disappointed and feeling in need of a shower and a colon cleanse.
Is that harsh?