The Piper Pub and Grill 

If an eatery has "pub" in its name, you can make a pretty good guess as to what you're going to find inside. Usually, you'll get a long bar, a few tables, a couple of TVs of various sizes and a menu chock full of heart-clogging delectables—not a bad place to hang out, but not necessarily the first thing you think of when looking for a place to go eat with your honey. When the missus and I headed over to Piper Pub early one Sunday evening, however, our expectations were pleasantly confounded.

Our timing was impeccable. The joint was practically deserted when we walked in, which is unusual because every time I've gone by or gone in, the place was wall-to-wall with people. However, we weren't looking to hang out with a city block, so it suited us just fine. The staff and a couple seated at one of the tables were enjoying the Carolina-Seattle game when we walked in, and our service was immediate and efficient. We took a two-person booth near the back and quickly placed drink orders.

However, the gustatory part of our adventure did not start off quite so well; I ordered a cup of clam chowder to begin, but when it arrived, the burnt smell of the soup didn't bode well. I tasted it anyway just to make sure, and I was right. However, our server apologized right away and struck that item from our check, which mollified me. It turned out to be just as well, because Piper Pub doesn't stint when it comes to portions. The blackened salmon Caesar salad I ordered ($8.99) was a large affair, filling a good-sized dinner plate with crisp greens, a tangy yet not overwhelming dressing, tomatoes and a salmon fillet, fully blackened on the outside but tender and juicy all the same. My wife went with the cheeseburger ($7.99), which turned out to be a damn big burger. It took two of us to demolish the side of fries, which was hot and crispy without being tough (although the strong taste of fish did indicate the oil had been doing double-duty).

Despite the minor hiccup, however, Piper Pub has much to recommend it. The staff was friendly and efficient, the menu was surprisingly broad for a pub-style eatery and the food was plentiful and tasty. Although it's a different vibe when the place is packed, we found the classy, upscale feel of the Piper to be a nice change of pace from the usual pub scene. In the summertime, sitting on the balcony overlooking the streets while enjoying a brew with dinner would be highly recommended. Overall, it's definitely worth another visit.

—Brandon Nolta mastered alliteration with: Piper Pub a perspicacious pick.

The Piper Pub and Grill, 150 N. 8th St., 343-2444, Mon.-Thu.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun.: 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

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