Simply Good: The Simple Man Saloon
By Ellen Oliver
Looking for some live music to accompany the game on a weekend night? Head over to the Simple Man Saloon in Clinton where you can get music, food and sports all in one unpretentious venue.
One look at the five-page menu lets you know simple does not mean limited at the SMS. The menu offers a wide variety of salads, burgers, pasta, chicken and potatoes. A simple man must like potatoes. You can order skins, waffle, shoestring, sweet potato or spicy fries with toppings including bacon cheese and chili, ranging in price for $4.95 to $7.95.
We started with the chicken wings, ordered Buffalo Blue style. The wings were large and juicy. There are three size selections: small – seven wings ($7.95); medium – 15 wings ($14.95); and the best deal, large 25 wings ($19.95) – enough to suit whatever size group you bring. Wings can be ordered with ten sauces, 12 if you count the three varieties of Buffalo (mild, hot and barn burner). You can also order your selection boneless, which you order by the half pound ($8.95-$27.95).
The Simple Man Sliders ($8.95) were three small burgers with onion and bacon in the burgers as part of the SMS secret recipe. The burgers were topped with cheese and an aioli pesto spread, a nice twist on a classic favorite.
The larger, meal-sized Black and Blue Burger was one of the seven burger choices, along with Mushroom and Swiss, Veggie, and Western, topped with onion rings and cheese, chili and BBQ sauce. The Black and Blue ($8.95) was a Cajun-spiced burger with bacon, crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing. It was cooked to order with all the side fixings you expect from a burger.
The Fish and Chips were “surprisingly good” according to one person in our party. For $11.95, we received large pieces of haddock, served perfectly crispy alongside the matching chips and colorful coleslaw.
The list of menu items can also whet the appetite of any eater with selections ranging from Chicken Parmesan to BLTs, Steak Bombs and Caesar Salads. We heard the Dude Ranch Salad ($8.95) is popular, served with crispy chicken tenders and a large salad topped with cheese and bacon. There’s also a kids menu with mozzarella sticks, grilled cheese, hot dogs and of course, chicken tenders.
The on-tap beer offerings vary by seasons with a staple of Sam Adams and Wachusett selections to accompany the popular Bud, Coors and Guinness pulls. If beer isn’t your libation of choice, the bar menu features some wine selections and weekly creative drink specials. A recent favorite was Butterfinger shots, a delicious concoction of butterscotch schnapps and Baileys.
There’s live music on the weekends but that doesn’t mean you can’t track your favorite sports team, thanks to the several televisions located around the bar. While the screen action is visible, the sets aren’t extra large, so you have to choose your seat strategically or stand by the bar to watch a clock countdown or check a score.
And the owners seem to understand the priorities of their patrons. During the Bruins playoff push, the band, Eclipse, dressed in their black and gold finery, only played during the intermissions so patrons didn’t have to split their focus. The band also joined the crowd in cheering on the team between sets.
The staff is friendly and many appear to be longtime employees very familiar with the menu and not afraid to offer advice on the choices. They’ve also been known to join in the dancing as they make their way around the dance floor.
In addition to sports and live music, the SMS also hosts trivia nights on Thursdays.
While there are many regulars from town, there’s also a mix of after work crowds, music fans and young late-nighters who come in an hour before closing. The night we were there, we saw patrons varying in age from 21 to 70+.
To end your evening, there’s always dessert. On the SMS menu there’s only one choice: a brownie sundae. What more does a simple man (or woman) need?