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A Big Win

Forget the Lazy Dog's bark. Its bite is delicious.

Still, the best starter was the crab cakes ($8.50): three patties that may have resembled crunchy, golden hockey pucks but tasted like nothing but warm, sweet crab with a little seasoning. And the wonderful side of homemade tartar sauce would come as a real revelation if you'd only experienced the kind that comes straight from Kraft. True, it's not rocket science to combine mayonnaise with relish, but there's no comparison between a good, creamy mayo mixed with a lot of chunky pickle bits and a preservative-smacked blob of greenish goo that forms a skin as soon as it hits the air.

That tartar sauce was so good it was reason enough to go for the beer-battered fish sandwich ($8.25). But the sandwich also boasted flawless pieces of cod that had been coated with an ale-spiked batter and then fried -- to perfection, of course -- until crested, golden waves formed around the moist fish, waves that held the faintest pools of clean oil. Although the fish came with its own sauce, an excellent horseradish-based mixture that resembled aioli, there was something about that tartar sauce that was just right. So was the side of fries, a mound of medium-thick-cut, lightly salted and seasoned spuds.

We also enjoyed an enormous mound of garlic-smashed potatoes, which had a gentle garlic bite and enough cheese melted across the top to ensure some with each forkful. But to get to those potatoes, we first polished off some fabulous baby-back ribs ($11.95 for a half rack) that were so tender the mere act of setting down the plate was enough to make the flesh actually fall off the bones. Covering this moist, moist meat was a thick sauce, not too sweet, with a barely spicy kick and a faint tanginess.

The Lazy Dog is up to the challenge of feeding good food to sports fans.
Q Crutchfield
The Lazy Dog is up to the challenge of feeding good food to sports fans.

With winning dishes like these under our now-loosened belts, we decided to put the Lazy Dog to a real test. No sports bar, we reasoned, ever serves good pasta, and decent pizza is always in short supply in this town. But the Dog was up to the challenge. An order of linguini and bay scallops ($10.95) brought small scallops that were still soft and tender -- and that's tough, since these babies dry out quickly -- floating in a light cream sauce flavored with green onions and roasted red peppers. The pizza ($7) was simply marvelous, with a thin, crackly crust that bubbled up on the edges while supporting copious amounts of artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, all stuck to the pie by a glue of tomatoey sauce and more of that top-notch mozzarella.

The Dog even went for extra points by making its desserts in-house. We slam-dunked a weird but wonderful wood-fired apple crisp ($4.25), with hot, smooshy apples covered by a granola-like topping and ice cream, as well as an unusual banana cream pie ($4.25) that arrived as one delicious smear of bananas, banana custard, some sort of crunchiness and a lot of whipped cream.

So look out, Loretta! It's all raves and no rants here: The Lazy Dog shoots and scores.

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