Pub fare in Medford doesn't get much better than at The Gypsy, a friendly restaurant and bar at 205 W. Eighth St.
This night spot is situated in an old radiator shop, Economy Radiator. When The Gypsy owners Clay Bearnson and Robin Bittinger moved their business in 2008 from the Sparta Building, they renovated their new space to include a large, round window that faces the street. The feature distinguishes the pub from its surroundings.
Another impressive feature is the row of 31 tap handles behind the bar, offering patrons a wide range of lagers, ales and beers — mainstream and craft. A full bar is available.
Patrons also may notice the collection of old tap handles bolted into the room's ceiling beams.
The Gypsy offers a range of victuals to indulge most any appetite — carnivorous or vegetarian. Appetizers include the usual fare — buffalo wings, deep-fried mushrooms and mozzarella sticks — along with healthier snacks — hummus wheels made with cucumber, tomato and sprouts; Moroccan chicken lettuce wraps; and fried green beans.
Also look for macaroni-and-cheese wedges. Prices range from $4.50 for a large side of French fries to $8 for a large nacho platter or the Irish nacho platter made with potatoes instead of corn chips.
My lunch companions were fixed on the pub's grilled panini, and the nachos lured me. The substantial menu also offers deli sandwiches, pitas, wraps, chili and salads.
Remarkably, standard variations of burgers are left out of the pub's selections — probably due to limited kitchen space — and, instead, specialty hot dogs — made from beef or soy — are offered.
There's a "Gypsy Style" dog with mustard, sweet relish, onion and tomato garnished with a deep-fried pickle spear and a dash of celery salt; a "Mexican" dog with bacon, jalapenos and cheddar jack; a "BBQ" dog with onion rings, barbecue sauce and melted cheddar; a "Texan" dog with bacon, Swiss cheese, barbecue sauce and red onion; a pizza dog; a nacho dog; a chili-mac dog with deep-fried mac-and-cheese wedges; and more. The vegetarian "hippy" dog is served with fried mushrooms, sprouts and vegan, garlic mayonnaise.
Specialty dogs cost $5. A regular hot dog costs $3, a dollar more for the soy version. Add chili and cheese to either for $1, sauerkraut for 50 cents.
I love hot dogs. I'd skip the soy and go right for a beef dog with chili and cheese. It could take me back to those summer-evening rides in the family car to the local A&W.
The panini proved quite pleasing. The "Italian Bird" was loaded with smoked turkey, melted provolone, sliced red onion and lots of pesto aioli. The "Chicken Paramanini" was made with a breaded and fried chicken breast, melted mozzarella, marinara and grated Parmesan. Italian herbs flavored the bread. Fries were served on the side with fry sauce that is the real deal. Panini cost $7.25 each.
The mountain of goodies that is the small nacho platter ($6) is more than enough for one appetite. It's topped with chili, cheese sauce and all of the fixings and served with sides of salsa and sour cream. One of my companions called the dish "epic."
On Jan. 29, Bearnson and Bittinger celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Gypsy.
Hours are 11 a.m. to close Monday through Friday and 4-ish to close Saturday and Sunday. Call 541-770-1212 or see www.gypsybluesbar.com for more information.
— Laurie Heuston