Looking for a dining spot in downtown Medford that serves meals fit for a discriminating palate but a casual diner's pocket book? Howiee's on Front offers delicious food with a Southern flair, daily lunch, dinner and happy-hour specials, plus an extensive selection of regional and imported beers.
A mainstay in Medford since the mid-'90s, the pub's quality of food raised when chef Justin Summerhays took the kitchen's helm about five years ago — and once again when he revamped the menu early last winter.
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
Howiee's on Front
16 N. Front St.
Open from 11 a.m. to midnight
Monday and Tuesday,
until 1 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday
and until 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Homemade macaroni and cheese and steamer clams are new to the appetizer menu, alongside homemade onion rings and to-die-for honey-chipotle pork ribs.
The Philly cheesesteak found its way from being an occasional special to a permanent place on the sandwich menu. Jambalaya and crawfish étouffée joined other house specialties such as fried chicken (two pieces for $7 and four for $10), a 10-ounce rib-eye steak ($16.95) and tiger prawns ($12.95).
I should mention that I haven't dined at Howiee's since 2004, when a friend and I stopped in for a burger, fries and a beer. The food was good but struck me as standard, freezer-to-fryer pub fare.
So when Mail Tribune Food Editor Sarah Lemon suggested lunch there, my expectations were close to baseless. The only image that came to mind was the profound collection of rock-music posters and album covers covering the pub's brick walls.
Lemon extolled Summerhays' pork ribs (five for $7) to start our meals. Just one tasty bite, and I knew I could expect more than everyday pub fare.
These tender, meaty, fall-from-the-bone morsels have a caramelized, crusty finish seasoned to perfection with a homemade sauce that uses chipotle chilies. The ribs get their start in the restaurant's smoker, along with brisket and other meats that show up in sandwiches offered as lunch specials, including the pulled pork ($7.50).
Our food aficionado moved on to enjoy the muffalatta ($8.50), a sandwich of capicola (a staple of any self-respecting Italian sandwich), ham, salami and provolone cheese on a toasted roll with homemade olive and roasted pepper spread.
The burgers with Angus beef patties on toasted kaiser rolls enticed. There are several choices of cheese — Swiss, cheddar, provolone or pepper jack — and toppings include mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, red onion and dill pickles. For a healthier choice, a grilled chicken breast can be substituted for the beef patty.
Burgers and sandwiches come with a choice of fries, salad, soup, chili, coleslaw or potato salad. Prices range from $7 for a basic burger to $9 for a bacon cheeseburger or a capicola burger.
The pot-roast sub ($8.50) with provolone and horseradish mayonnaise, must be a popular one because the restaurant had sold out before our visit. It was only to my good fortune. Our server pointed to the menu's catfish po'boy ($9.50) and said it was one of her favorites.
This delectable sub held a crispy, battered fillet of catfish cooked to a flaky texture and dressed with creamy coleslaw, Creole mustard, sliced tomato and pickles. It was a culinary delight. In keeping with Southern tastes, Summerhays occasionally offers alligator po'boys as lunch specials.
In fact, alligator is one ingredient that Summerhays will include in his three-course dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, at Howiee's during Medford Beer Week.
The dinner will start with passion fruit-habañero chicken wings, followed by a Cobb salad with alligator and Marionberry vinaigrette. The entree will be oak-smoked New York strip roast served with sides of baked, whipped potatoes with goat cheese and "maque choux" (a sweet corn pudding) with bacon and peppers.
Courses will be paired with brews from Widmer Brothers Brewing. Dessert, which is optional, will be a vanilla ice-cream float made with Widmer's Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout and topped with raspberry gastrique. The dinner costs $30 in advance, $35 at the door. At press time, only 20 seats were left available. Call 541-773-5767 for reservations.
Now that I've discovered Howiee's cuisine, I can hardly wait to get back.
— Laurie Heuston