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Just Opened

DJ’s Sports Tavern
380 Glensprings Dr Springdale, OH 45246
(513) 771-0888

Reviewing any pub’s grub always makes my nerves uneasy. Especially a brand new one. Fact is pub food is usually poor quality cheapie frozen stuff. Your average pub grub menus all read the same; poppers, loaded skins, cheese sticks, wings, burgers, frozen fish sandwiches, chili, blah blah blah blah. Even though it usually dumps right from the box to the fryer, owners still want to brag to me about it. “sure it’s frozen… but this is the good kind” Yeah, Sysco’s Best huh? Dumb. I will never understand it, but I do get a bit nervous when I need to review it. For one, it’s my belly and my day that could be ruined by crap food. Two the CV reputation of pure unbiased honesty must remain unblemished.

DJ’s Sports Tavern is a new pub/ club band venue in Springdale. I met with head honcho Chris Rosenburg while DJ’s was still under re-construction about the promos and grand opening. He gave me a quick run down of the bar and concept. When I asked about the food he simply said, “Yeah we’ll have good food too.” That was it. No boorish bragging or lengthy details. I assumed it wasn’t a big focus. I wasn’t sure what “good food” even meant.

When I returned to try DJ’s “good food” I had no idea what to expect. “Hopefully it’s good enough to merit an article” I told my wife on the way there. “It’s a pub, not a steakhouse, if they don’t buy everything frozen they should have a few things worth trying.” I don’t know If I was assuring her, or reassuring myself.

Seated and scanning the menu I realized this wasn’t a Pub Grub menu, this was a true restaurant menu. More appetizing than Fridays or Applebees (or Butterbees) menu, but without the high brow descriptions of a steakhouse or “gourmet” eatery. A fine first look for certain. For instance, under “Snacks” DJ’s lists a flat bread pizza. Far from a snack, this pizza is healthy in portion and ingredients. A powerful house made marinara shouts out loud under the melted & slightly browned provolone & mozzarella cheese. A buttery, airy scratch made crust (featuring perfect chew) holds it all together nicely. Mine had jalapeños and peppers and it needed nothing else. Parmesan and red pepper flakes were offered but I felt no need to clutter it up. This is an entree by many standards for sure. Snack… right, well maybe if you are pushing 400 and haven’t eaten all day. I tried a sandwich and an entree as well. The house breaded cod fueled my curiosity for the sandwich option. The title simply says “Fresh grilled or tavern battered fish (with lettuce, lemon & tarter sauce $6.75).

Turns out the pretty fish is a fine fillet of white flaky meat, lightly coated in a beer batter that is more beer than batter. The batter fried up tight against the cod with none of the dreaded goo in-between (a common feature in frozen fish). I would put this batter up against any of the Irish or English fish joints in the city. The flavor was not only light, it was also bright with beer and perhaps a bit of malt vinegar? Perhaps. You won’t go wrong ordering this fish. My entree choice was also simply titled, “Grilled or tavern battered jumbo shrimp” ($9.50). My choice of side was “rice of the day”. How many pubs have rice of the day? My grilled version was spiced but not spicy. Cooked to just done. The shrimp surrounded a scoop of simple seasoned white rice. It was too devoured and praised for simplicity and quality. I should have also tried the hand cut NY strip, or the Southern fried pork chop, or the pulled pork. Not to mention the fresh vegetable soup or even the Dorito nachos. Those are all dishes that need to be sampled. But I can’t eat five entrees and a giant “snack” so I will have to return.

I had no indication that DJ’s “pub grub” was as good as it really was. The man behind the magic of the menu is Chef Junior Allen (20+ years at Gunther’s Steak House). This guy is a seasoned steak house chef. He brings what is needed to DJ’s grub to elevate way past pub grub. Ordering meat from Northern Hazzard Meats, cutting the steaks in house off the loin, grinding fresh chuck for the burgers (I got a peek at one of those and they are no slouch my friends). Whisking up fresh beer batter, tarter sauce, marinara and more daily. Chris did right getting Junior to man the kitchen. Junior has free reign and it shows in the quality. If this is Pub Grub, Appledays is Cafeteria.

The focus on quality doesn’t start or stop in the kitchen either. Giant crystal clear projection screens illuminate the room in orange and green during the games. The dance floor covered in dining tables morphs into a dance floor covered in legs on Friday nights when Rosenburg does his thing on the DJ mic & mixing board. The stage supports some of the top name acts in the city on Saturday nights. Daily specials and a row of pool tables entertain the happy hour crowd. A sweet smoking fire lit patio will no doubt be packed all fall and winter. 20 cold beers flow from the taps. There are even liquor taps too. DJ’s Sports Tavern is certainly more than meets the eye. Skip the crap Springdale corporate joints and explore the menu for lunch or dinner, hip the hop on Fridays, rock out on Saturdays, come alone or in a group. Regardless when you come… I think you’ll find you’ll come back. Oh yeah, they have sports of all sorts, food & drink game day specials too. Check out the band line up on page 2. Or in the Band Guide.

 

 

 

 

 

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