Phillip's Lounge in Arnold is a treat worth tasting

| Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Lunch Bunch crew forgot just how good the food is at Phillip's Lounge in Arnold.

And the prices made everything a real value. It had been years since we visited the restaurant. By the time we left, we vowed to return much sooner.

Service is friendly and efficient at Phillip's, where a community feel leaves patrons relaxed. Phillip Toney has owned the place for just over nine years.

Newcomers might walk in thinking Phillip's is just a big oval-shaped bar, but there are two dining rooms that are separate from the bar area. Small tables for two and four line the walls, and the server just had to turn her back to get orders from one table to the next.

We're not kidding when we say Phillip's is a friendly place. Where else would you find strangers offering up their basket of Onion Rings ($4.25) for a sample. Jim and Karen, who were dining at the next table, insisted we try them, too, since we were curious. They were great. The huge basket held sweet onions that were perfectly breaded in a light, crispy batter and deep-fried.

For our own table, we ordered Sweet Potato Fries ($2.75). The slender sticks arrived piping hot and came with a sweet dipping sauce.

We ordered a Zucchini Parmesan sandwich ($5.50), because frankly we never heard of one. It was awesome. Thin lengths of zucchini were breaded and fried to a light crisp and layered onto the softest ever toasted garlic roll with provolone and a thick marinara. Although we couldn't eat it all in one sitting, we made sure we devoured every bite for dinner that night. This absolutely will be our standard order next time we visit on our own.

The Sante Fe sandwich ($6.50) was big on flavor and size. A long soft hoagie roll held seasoned fajita chicken pieces, thick slices of bacon, pepper jack cheese and zippy ranch dressing. Lettuce and tomato dressed the sandwich. The flavors blended perfectly.

We ordered a Cold Italian Hoagie ($5.25) to go for a pal in a hurry, and it was a big hit as well. The hearty sandwich featured salami, capicolla and ham with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and Italian dressing crammed into a long hoagie roll. The soft, yielding sandwich was gobbled up in a flash.

The Crab Cake Basket ($5.75) contained two breaded and deep-fried crab cakes and fries. The crab cakes were fried to a nice golden brown and held a moist filling of crab meat and breading. The fries were slender cuts of potatoes, just the way we like them, and passed the grease test with flying colors.

Another big seller was the Fish on a Dish ($7.50), which featured a huge piece of lightly breaded cod, perfectly cooked so it was flaky. The lemon and seasonings did not overpower the mild fish taste, making it a superb choice for Lent.

The Seasoned Jumbo Chicken Wings ($10.75 per dozen, $6.96, half dozen) were large whole wings, fresh, not frozen, and came with a delightfully light seasoned batter. The juices were sealed in, and the meat was plentiful. Served with Phillip's secret sauce, these wings were described as some of the finest in the Valley by one taster.

The Chicken Salad Sandwich ($5.50) was ordered as a take-out. The creamy chicken salad was oozing out of toasted bread and was accompanied by homemade potato chips. These crisp, slightly seasoned chips were gone before the sandwich.

Compiled by Rebecca Killian, Sis Reola, Eric Felack and guests. Meals are paid for by the Valley News Dispatch and are unrelated to advertising.

Additional Information:

Phillip's Lounge

Address: 1735 Fourth Ave., Arnold

Phone: 724-339-8660

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday.; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; limited menu only 1-5 p.m. Sunday

Credit cards: All major cards accepted

Smoking: Separate nonsmoking dining room from bar area

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Prices: Appetizers, $1.25-$7.50; salads, $1.25-$7.50; sandwiches, $2.95-$6.50

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