Down for a dog?

Archer’s hits the bullseye

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Stadium Dog with Mac-N-Cheese at Archer’s Tavern

The snow is melting, the sun is attempting a resurgence and spring training is here. Baseball makes me think, of course, of hotdogs. Humphrey Bogart said it best: “A hotdog at the ball park is better than a steak at the Ritz.” I’m not going that far, but I did find myself with a craving for a coney.

Archer’s, located on South Main Street in Centerville, has been around on its present site as a tavern in one form or another since 1802. Their menu features a selection of fine sounding hot dogs, which prompted PIP (Palate In Progress) and me to celebrate spring and throw dietary caution to the wind.

Archer’s, a large casual, family friendly space, was beginning to fill up for Saturday dinner when we arrived around 5 p.m. We were seated in a roomy booth and greeted by Colin, our upbeat and personable server. Appetizers were considered. Knowing we were there for the dogs, I was pleased to see a 3 oz. mini burger, The One Way Burger ($3.73) as an appetizer option. The square patty slider came with basic lettuce, tomato and onion. Hold the salt and slather on a dollop of mayo to counter the saltiness of the meat. PIP’s choice of chili ($5.13) proved to be a good one. Sweet and tomatoey with lots of cumin, it made me almost wish I had chosen a chilidog for my dinner. Besides these two choices, the standard bar appetizers were all represented: wings, nachos, potato skins, mozzarella sticks.

Gone to the dogs

While PIP and I went especially for the dogs, Archer’s does have a full menu. It features sandwiches, burgers, BBQ and complete dinners, as well as flat bread pizzas and a large array of beer, from craft IPA’s to standard drafts and bottles. But like I said, we had frankfurter fever so we headed straight for that section of the menu.

Archer’s is a place that clearly enjoys excess – they deep fry their hot dogs. After they wrap them in bacon. As if deep-frying wasn’t enough. Yep. Wrapped in bacon. I was giddy at the very thought of this, but in the end I found myself just a tiny bit ambivalent. The reason for this is that wrapping something in bacon means you want to really taste the smokey fatty bacon-ness that makes bacon so delicious. The toppings that came on the dogs we chose (PIP’s Stadium Dog and my New Yorker) meant we weren’t adequately discerning the presence of the bacon. On the Stadium Dog especially it couldn’t really be showcased. In the end, bacon is never bad, but if you really want to taste it, consider less assertive toppings. Order your dog with or without the bacon. You’ll be happy either way.

PIP’s Stadium Dog ($8.86) was like a ballgame on a poppy seed bun, piled with gooey nacho cheese and hot jalapeño slices. The deep-fried dog crunched and the cheesy sauce oozed, and it felt for a moment like summer had arrived. Mine was the New Yorker ($8.86), with sauerkraut, large slices of sweet grilled onion, and a tasty tangy grainy brown mustard on a poppy seed bun. It was a great combination, and I was able to taste more of the bacon than I could on the Stadium Dog.

Taking sides

Both dogs come with fries on the side, but I felt the need to do something compensatory for my arteries, substituting the Carolina style cole slaw. I love vinegar-based coleslaws, and though this one is slightly sweet, its welcome crunch was a great foil for the fried pork fest that was my entree. PIP embraced his cholesterol level with the defiant choice of Archer’s Mac-N-Cheese (at an additional charge). This mac and cheese, billed as gourmet, was strongly smokey and a little sticky, not of the mild and creamy variety. Personal preference enters in here. I wished for less smoke and more cream, while PIP was quite satisfied.

I mentioned Archer’s liking excess, and that’s pretty clear with their dessert selections. That night they were featuring three different Kandice’s Cheesecake Creations ($5.14). PIP tried the chocolate caramel version, a full-scale assault on the plain simplicity of the classic version of the cheesecake I prefer. But if you are a fan of gilding the cheesecake lily, Archer’s does that well, throwing in two other topping mash ups, as well as the Hershey’s caramel explosion PIP selected.

Dessert dilemma

My dessert choice, the Bread Pudding ($5.13) was made with Bill’s Donuts (a Dayton favorite) on this particular night. I can’t pass up bread pudding, but I am not a lover of donuts. I ordered it anyway, hoping that the caramel sauce and ice cream would disguise the fried donut taste. For me, it was overly cinnamony, and too much like a donut. PIP however was enchanted by Archer’s magical idea of making Bill’s donuts into dessert, and he finished it off with glee.

Service with several smiles

Anyone who regularly reads my reviews knows I am usually very critical of service. Here’s a case where I am happy to report a really good experience. Archer’s servers, mostly college aged, were attentive, informative and engaging, especially Colin, our main server. He took a lot of time describing menu items, making suggestions, and answering our questions. All of the servers seemed to work well as a team paying attention to clearing and refilling beverages frequently. Interactions with our table, and those around us were pleasant and sincere. Kudos to Archer’s management for doing a good job training their staff.

So if spring and spring training makes you think of hotdogs, grab the family and head to Archer’s Tavern. I might see you there to get rid of this hankering I’ve had for a chili dog. Probably with bacon.

Archer’s Tavern is located at 9496 Dayton-Lebanon Pike, Centerville. Hours of operation are Sunday 11 a.m – 9 p.m., Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. For more information, please call 937.401.1015 or visit archerstavern.com.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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