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There's a reason C.C. O'Brien's is a local mainstay

C.C. O’Brien’s is one of those local mainstays that rarely disappoints. It’s a family-owned sports café that has been serving regulars and newcomers for more than 25 years. 

Like other bars and eateries, it struggled through COVID and adapted by offering more takeout and adding outdoor seating in good weather, but, on two recent visits, it appears that the old C.C. O’Brien’s is back.

We went once for lunch and again for dinner. It was quiet when we went at noontime on a Friday, and our waitress, Audrey, couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating. When we went back for a weeknight dinner, there were only a handful of other patrons when we arrived, but the place was hopping by the time we finished, with seemingly every table and bar stool taken. The service was good, but our waitress this time was running in all directions, and acknowledged that they were short-handed. C.C. O’Brien’s is hiring.

The food has always been good at C.C.’s. They serve what I would describe as comfort food: chowder, chili, nachos, burgers, tuna melts, quesadillas, salads, and daily specials, like the roast beef sandwich we ordered on our lunchtime visit. For $10.95, it was a bargain for a couple-inch pile of rare roast beef on an inverted, grilled roll, with Swiss cheese, raw onion, and a homemade horseradish sauce, with chips and pickles. For $2 more, we upgraded to sweet potato fries.

The sandwich was insanely good. And although we agreed to do a double-switch — you order this, I’ll order that, and we will go halves — the sandwich was so good, there was a shared bite but no forfeiting a full half. Well, it might have been the onions, too, since my luncheon companion is not an onion fan. Lucky for me.

We did split an order of C.C.’s Famous Wings, $12.95, which are offered in a variety of sauces including buffalo, barbecue, sweet Thai chili, Old Bay, honey-teriyaki, garlic parmesan, and “buffaque” — a buffalo-BBQ combination.

The order is 10 wings, and you can split it five-five with two flavorings, but we decided to go all in on the garlic parmesan and we were not disappointed. The wings were plump and juicy, crispy on the outside, and perfectly flavored.

We also tried the homemade broccoli cheddar soup, $4.50 for a cup, which was a special and very, very good. It was creamy, cheesy and laden with tender, not mushy, broccoli florets. It might have been served a little warmer, but our compliments just the same to the chef. 

The restaurant promotes its Reuben, $9.95, as a house favorite, and the sandwich was mighty good. Maybe not the best Reuben we have ever had, but in the running. Served on grilled rye bread with melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, it was a tasty handful.

Another favorite was the Apple Walnut Salad, $10.95, which we ordered with sliced steak, for an additional $5. It was flavorsome, the fresh greens tossed with a house-made maple vinaigrette and slivered Granny Smith apples, walnuts, craisins, and gorgonzola crumbles. Our only complaint was that there were too many of the dried cranberries, which, I’ll admit, is weak criticism.

When we went for dinner, there was a special that we tried, the Carolina Burger, for $14.95. We ordered it, and there was nothing wrong with it, but the combination didn’t work for us. It was a charbroiled hamburger topped with barbecue pulled pork, melted cheddar, and lettuce and tomatoes. The pork and beef on top of one another was a gastronomic mismatch so we dismantled the sandwich and ate the two separately.

We would recommend the Fried Pickle Chips, $5.95, a good-sized basket of battered and deep-fried dill pickle chips served with a side of ranch dressing. They are certainly not healthy, but they are addicting.

All in all, the food and service are good at C.C. O’Brien’s, and if you live locally, there’s a good chance you’ll run into someone you know when you visit. But newcomers are also welcome, and regardless of who you are or how often you’ve been there, they’ll make you feel at home.

C.C. O’Brien’s Sports Cafe

8 Mechanic St., Pawcatuck

(860) 599-2034

Find their website at ccobriens.com and search their name to find them on Facebook.

Atmosphere: This is a sports bar and café, with televisions everywhere, pool tables, darts, music, and live local bands on Saturday nights, as well as other entertainment.

Alcohol: A full-service bar

Hours: The kitchen is open 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays, according to the website. The bar stays open later, and they are closed on Mondays.

Service: Amiable

Prices: Most everything is in the $10 to $15 range, less for starters.

Reservations: Yes, and recommended on Sundays and when there’s entertainment.

Credit cards: Yes

Handicapped accessible: It’s one step in the back door. There is an upper level, but plenty of seating downstairs.

Outdoor seating: Since COVID, they have added outdoor tables in good weather.

 

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