The Plank 

I'm always excited when a new restaurant opens up on the Bench. Working downtown, I have easy access to plenty of great places to eat, but when I'm up on the Bench, the options are a little more limited. And sit-down eateries on Vista are few and far between, that is, until recently when some genius decided to re-open a casual dining joint just up the hill from the intersection of Vista and Rose Hill: The Plank.

As the name implies, there's a theme to the decor at The Plank. Oh, is there a theme: scallywags, pirates and scurvy dogs, oh my. (My favorite accouterment is a life-size pirate chick, suspended from the ceiling.) However, it's not overdone. There are a few skull-and-crossbone flags and banners here and there and, not surprisingly, a menu with offerings of Wench wraps and Booty burgers.

Having eaten there before and enjoyed it, I was happy to grab the I.T. Guy and a coworker and set out for lunch at The Plank. We were the only people in the join—surprising since they have a great $4.95 lunch menu—and the friendly bartender/waiter/cook came and took our order. We eschewed the lunch menu and went for full-sized meals. The I.T. guy ordered a BLT with a side of Caesar salad. His sandwich was on a large, soft, white roll and had just the right amount of ingredients: not so few as to be a disappointment, but not so many as to come dripping out the sides. My coworker ordered the finger steaks, and if I hadn't been so busy devouring my strips of fried chicken, I might have asked her for one. She and I both ordered a house salad on the side (as if they might cancel out some of our fried food calories). For side salads they were quite big with fresh greens, plenty of croutons and a sprinkling of sliced black olives.

I ate a smattering of salad and then dove into my basket of fried fowl. The strips of chicken were fresh out of the fryer and seasoned just right. The batter was crispy and crunchy, covering big, tender pieces of white chicken meat. I dipped them repeatedly, even double-dipped (only a ticketable offense when sauces are being shared).

I toyed with the idea of a large pint o' Guinness for dessert but after making sure every morsel of chicken had been covered in Ranch dressing and consumed, and clearing every piece of lettuce from my salad bowl, there just wasn't room. Which is unfortunate, because The Plank has a mug club. I don't know exactly what that entails, but I do know that with this friendly little neighborhood pub offering great food and a plethora of brewed beverages just down the street from my house, I'm going to find out.

—Amy Atkins fell into a burning ring of fire.

The Plank: 650 S. Vista Ave., 336-1790. Mon.-Wed.: 11 am.-midnight, Thu.-Fri.: 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat.: 12 p.m.-2 a.m., Sun.: 4 p.m.-close. Food served daily until 11 p.m.

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