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Published: Thursday, 8/27/2009

Restaurant review: Quarters Bar & Grill **

Every great bar needs a schtick. Sometimes it's the concept, sometimes it's the menu, but in the best of them it's both. Quarters Bar & Grill in Perrysburg has the right idea, even if it's flawed in the execution.

The pub, situated in a strip mall next to a Kroger store just south of I-75, shares its name with a drinking game or a unit of currency, depending on your point of view. Keep that in mind as you peruse the menu or you could be in for some sticker shock: A perch dinner that costs 40? An Italian grinder selling for 24?

Simmer down. The prices are listed in quarters instead of dollars. For the arithmetic-impaired, there's a conversion table.

The only math that really matters is whether the surprisingly complete menu adds up to a delicious experience. On that count, the result is mixed.

Starters range from chicken wings ($7) to pot stickers ($6), but it was nice to see different takes on a couple of bar fare favorites: Mexi Skins ($7.50) are spuds stuffed with taco meat, onions, tomatoes, and cheese, and the deep-fried onion petals ($5) arrive as interestingly shaped chunks. Both, however, were missing some zing.

The homemade soups were consistently excellent. The chili ($2) was particularly good - thick, chunky, and with just a little kick.

There's an expansive list of summer specials but you don't need to abandon the usual menu and its very reasonable portions for a wide variety. Nor do you need to look far for a little entertainment while you wait for your meal. Quarters has a pool table, juke box, and a couple of arcade games to complement the bar that cuts through the middle of the room.

usual menu and its very reasonable portions for a wide variety. Nor do you need to look far for a little entertainment while you wait for your meal. Quarters has a pool table, juke box, and a couple of arcade games to complement the bar that cuts through the middle of the room.

Perhaps the best entertainment, though, is watching the expression on your companions' faces as your Monte Cristo sandwich ($6.75) is delivered to your table. A brainchild of some culinary evil genius, the dish featuring ham, turkey, and two cheeses is deep fried - in its entirety - and served with powdered sugar and strawberry jam. At least, that's how they do it at Quarters.

Wince at the idea if you must, but the result is divine. The savory meat and soft, melted cheese mix perfectly with the sweetness. This sandwich alone is reason enough to visit the bar.

Which is why it was all the more disappointing when other dishes we tried tended not to take such creative risks or push such bold flavors. The buffalo chicken sandwich ($6) didn't bring much heat, and the chicken fajita wrap ($6.75) had all the right ingredients but did little with them.

While a traditional cheeseburger ($6.50) was nice and juicy, the 12-ounce rib-eye steak ($13) was boring and tasted as if it had not been seasoned at all. The fettuccine Alfredo ($8.50) did nothing to distinguish itself either.

Quarters is at its best when it embraces change - the putting-unusual-items-on-the-menu kind, not the George-Washington-on-the-front kind (although that's nice too). The real jackpot will be taking that spirit and those flavors and going all in.

Contact Bill of Fare at: fare@theblade.com



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