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Shenanigans on Main

Two hungry working stiffs looking for a bite of good food and a beverage at the end of a workday, my boyfriend Rob and I wandered into Shenanigans on Main. The downtown Medford restaurant is in the space once occupied by Sambuca Martini Bar and Bistro and, later, by Sloe Bar and Grill.

There are three spaces under the Shenanigans roof — Shenanigans on Main, 410 E. Main St.; Shenanigans Bar and Grill (formerly the Osprey Brew Pub), 404 E. Main St.; and Shenanigans Irish Pub, 17 S. Riverside Ave.

The latter is styled after a traditional pub, the bar and grill is more of a sports bar touting several large-screen TVs and Shenanigans On Main has retained the atmosphere and some of the amenities of Sloe's martini bar.

We pulled our car up to the front of the restaurant and peered through the windows of what was once an old shop in the heart of Medford. We were delighted to see that the lovely space was still intact. Small tables and leather upholstered seating now fill the display windows on each side of the entrance. The restaurant's ceilings are high, and one wall remains in old brick, but the comfortable couches, chairs and lighting that is easy on the eyes lend a soft edge to the room.

We were even more delighted when we discovered Smithwick's Irish Ale on tap, among a large selection of imported and domestic beers and ales. There are about 100 martini recipes to choose from should a cocktail be more suited to your evening.

We took our pints to a table and settled down to look at the menu, listening to rock 'n' roll coming through on Sirius satellite radio.

The kitchen at Shenanigans on Main serves all three of the venues, and they are connected by a large, outdoor deck.

The one-sided menu offers the standard bar fare — deep-fried appetizers, sandwiches, Irish stew, chips, salads, pizza and burgers — at more than reasonable prices.

Considering our growling stomachs and the low prices, we decided to order several Items. The zucchini fingers ($4), deep fried in hot oil until piping hot, were served with ranch dressing and made fresh with carrot and celery sticks. They were tasty and took the edge off of our appetites. But what can anyone say about zucchini fingers after they've tried a basketful of them at Omar's in Ashland. Fresh just can't stack up to frozen.

I tried a cheeseburger ($4) and Rob ordered the corned beef sandwich with Swiss cheese and soft onions ($6). The burger was good, but the corned beef was a little tough. We also were hoping for good French fries, and were served the fast-food variety. Some people like them, but they're too dry and salty for me.

I liked the Cobb salad ($6) the best. It was a nice plate of fresh greens covered with bacon, turkey, chopped tomatoes, hard-cooked egg, some quite fresh-looking slices of avocado and crumbled blue cheese.

We were delighted again when our waitress treated us to spiced cookies made of frosted meringue. Each sweet cookie was accompanied by an Irish blessing hand-written on a long strip of green paper. Rob's read "May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight." Mine read "May the dust of your carriage blind the eyes of your foe!"

During the warmer weather last year, live music was presented each weekend on the deck outside Shenanigans. The Irish Pub still offers jam sessions Wednesday and Sunday nights. We stopped in a few months ago to hear a friend's band perform, and the place was filled with young people.

With all of those mouths to feed in the martini bar, sports bar and Irish pub, I'd say the kitchen at Shenanigan's on Main is doing a good job offering good, cheap eats — especially during a time when money may be tight for many folks.

— Laurie Heuston