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Stumble Inne to a new pub in Old Lyme

What was once the Public House in the Old Lyme Shopping Center is now the Stumble Inne. As an easy sell on clever names who also reviewed the Inne’s former iteration, curiosity necessitated a return trip to 90 Halls Road.

For those who remember the Public House, the set-up will look familiar: bar on the right, dining area on the left, with loads of space in both areas. The décor has taken a turn for the sports-bar-casual, and TV screens in each room are tuned to the day’s sports-ball matches.

Naturally, the menu should match the venue, and you’ll find several game-day delights on the Inne’s menu. Among them, the Buffalo Chicken Dip ($10.50), one of our guilty pleasures that I no longer need to prepare at home. We’ll just go to the Inne when the need arises. Baked to perfection, the balance of tangy buffalo sauce, cream cheese, and shredded chicken was spot-on in both the flavor and texture departments. Note: The menu says the dip is accompanied by tortilla chips. Ours came with something more like light and crispy pita chips, which were very good with the thick, hearty dip.

We DID get an ample side of tortilla chips soon enough with our order of Spicy Stumble Chili ($7.50), a beef and bean variety topped with cheddar cheese and scallions. It sounded like the perfect topper to a long week. While we enjoyed the chili’s definite kick of spice and texture, the overall prevailing sweetness was unexpected. Too much mole spice, perhaps? The salty chips and dollop of cheese offset some of the sweetness, but we would have preferred something more savory and spicy.

If you have a hankering for a big old sandwich, consider the New Yorker ($15; served with fries), a sandwich piled with lean pastrami, Swiss cheese, tomato, coleslaw, and 1,000 Island dressing on beautifully grilled thick cuts of rye. Was it tasty? You bet. The coleslaw was on the crispy side (my preference) and the pastrami was tender enough, BUT it fell apart after the first bite and my hands quickly became covered in that tastiness. I had to knife-and-fork it the rest of the way. Make sure to ask for extra napkins.

We veered a little out of the box for our entree samplings (in the Stumble Favorites section of the menu). The menu offers quite an array of options from Fish & Chips ($18.50) to the Beef Burrito ($18). As fans of all things Mexican, we had to try the burrito, which came with a friendly caveat from the server: The thing is huge. The size almost justifies the hefty price point, but if one person were to eat the entire thing, that person could probably skip the next few days of meals. The behemoth burrito is filled with seasoned ground beef, rice, refries, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes along with sour cream, scallions and enchilada sauce. We’ve had better burritos, we’ve had worse. This one is just fine but it’s not going to check the box if you’re really in the mood for Mexican food. The beef did offer a tasty kick of heat, but it got a little buried in all the other filling.

As for entrée number two, the Rigatoni Marinara ($16.50; also available with Alfredo sauce; add-ons available), we once again encountered overly sweet notes to the marinara. The sweetness of the sauce became too distracting for me, and I regretted not adding chicken or shrimp ($4 and $6 extra, respectively), which might have balanced things out a bit more. On the plus side, the order was generous in size and the pasta cooked just right.

Now for a home run: The Stumble Burger ($15; served with crinkle-cut fries), which satisfied from the glossy, fresh brioche roll to the hand-formed patty and the generous helping of bacon in between. All three maintained the exact texture you’d want in such a construction, and some lettuce and tomato added refreshing crispiness throughout. I ordered it cooked medium, and the kitchen got it right.

The grand-slam homerun? Friendly service and a welcoming atmosphere (karaoke night must be fabulous!), and it’s good to see a new business building community and camaraderie in a world that could use more of both.

The Stumble Inne

90 Halls Road, Old Lyme (in the Old Lyme Marketplace)

(860) 434-2342

Info and menus posted to Facebook

Cuisine: Dressed-up American pub and diner classics, including burgers, sandwiches, entrees, and salads; plus, a raw bar

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 3-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3-11 p.m.; Sunday, 1-10 p.m. Monday night is Trivia Night; Thursdays are for karaoke; live music on the weekends.

Service: Very pleasant and welcoming

Atmosphere: Casual (but not too casual) sports bar vibe on one side, spacious family-friendly dining area on the other. A handful of televisions broadcast the sports du jour.

Prices: On the pricier side for this type of fare. Entrees start at $16.50 (Rigatoni Marinara); salads at $12.50; apps average around $10; and angus burgers run from $12.50 to $15.

Credit cards: Yes

Handicapped accessibility: Entrance is a short distance from the shopping center parking lot; look for a dip in the curb near the entrance (closer to the liquor store); no stairs to enter, and the roomy foyer leads to the spacious bar and dining room

Reservations: Recommended for parties of six or more

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