If truth in labeling applied to restaurant names, interesting things might happen. In one particular case on Morganford Road, we would have visited the Aluminum Can Tavern & Grille. But we agree that "Tin Can" sounds a lot more pleasant -- and frankly, that’s what most folks call the metal containers beer arrives in. Theoretically, the Tin Can Tavern & Grille should mostly be about beer, and it does feel a lot like a neighborhood saloon. But the granny-style food is far better than what one might expect. And so is the atmosphere in this tri-level spot, dotted with television screens carrying a variety of entertainment, some rather loud – but not uncomfortable – music and a great deal of conversation. Servers are friendly and eager, complimenting the food as they discuss it with diners and answering questions with considerable aplomb.
A wall sign lists more than 50 brands of beer, another offers shirts and things for sale. (If professional sports teams can sell that sort of stuff, taverns should have the same right.)
We split an order of Low Country meat pies, a crisp crust and moist, full flavored filling punctuated with a few peas here and there, and a creamy bacon-tomato sauce for dipping. When a dish is good without its sauce and good-but-different with it, that’s a particular pleasure. This qualifies. Grilled shrimp were moist and meaty, covered in a sticky sweet-and-sour sauce, with some cocktail sauce on hand, a combination that doesn’t qualify for the aforementioned.
Plenty of sandwiches, of course, burgers and grilled cheese and even fried bologna, but we investigated main courses. "Pork shanks," said the menu. Plural? We pondered. In our experience, a pork shank is a fairly massive thing, maybe six or seven inches long and almost that wide at its base, a moist, succulent cut as a veal shank can be. What we got were two shanks resembling chicken drumsticks on HGH. Clearly finger food, it was like eating a gigantic, falling-off-the-bone spare rib, braised rather than grilled, with some barbeque sauce poured on top. Messy but extremely tasty.
Fried chicken is, in a word, excellent, a crisp, well-seasoned crust enclosing chicken so moist it’s practically dripping. Even an overnight stay in the refrigerator didn’t turn this crust soggy before an encore performance at lunch the next day. Next visit, we’ll try the pot roast and chicken fried steak.
The sides are granny-esque, too. Green beans are cooked until definitely dead, with plenty of bacon for flavor and texture. That’s how Ann grew up with them (hated them as a kid; likes them now), and these are different only in the generous amount of meat. The macaroni and cheese had us scratching our heads, however. It’s thick and really creamy and cheesy, slightly gooey – but it’s sweet. Yes, sweet macaroni and cheese. "Honey and brown sugar," explained a guy in street dress who moved back and forth between the kitchen and a table in the bar. And the honey in particular was noticeable. There are so many variations on macaroni and cheese these days that all we can do is shrug and say that this one isn’t to our particular tastes, especially served with a barbecued pork shank. But we bet it would be if the sweeteners were removed.
Desserts, proclaim a chalkboard, come from la Dolce Via, no small recommendation. A piece of coconut cake was moist, tender pale yellow cake with a fluffy, relatively unsweet buttercream frosting studded with coconut. Nice, soothing, real comfort food.
This is a beer house, of course, rather than wine or most cocktails, and the selection is wide-ranging. Iced tea and similar beverages arrive in Mason jars, the better to carry out the homey feeling.
3157 Morganford Rd.
Lunch & Dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Wheelchair access: Poor
Entrees: $7-$8 (without sides)