Unless you’re a local, you probably don’t know about Mickey’s. Tucked away in a strip mall surrounded by subdivisions, it looks and feels more like the neighborhood hangout that it probably is. Yes, “grille” is included in the name, but it’s a safe bet most are coming for the “pub.”
Décor/atmosphere: Nothing fancy here. A simple green awning hangs over a bank of windows adorned with beer signs. Inside, the first thing you see are pool tables behind which sits a large, three-sided bar. On each side of the room are two- and four-seat bar tables with stools that can easily be pulled together for large parties. A couple of electronic dart boards fill one corner. All-in-all, it makes for a comfortable space where you won’t mind meeting a friend or two for a beer and a burger or chicken wings.
Menu: You could write this one in your sleep. Nachos? Check. Potato skins? Check. Cheeseburger, breaded chicken sandwich, Italian beef? Check, check, check. Mickey’s does six variations on the all-American favorite burger, with the usual array of toppings (bacon, mushrooms, blue cheese, etc.) and one – the “Sid” – that goes a bit beyond the comfort zone with grilled onions, peppers, mayo and Dijon mustard.
Otherwise, you’re going to find the standard options: barbecue beef, patty melt, buffalo chicken, turkey club, chicken wraps, Caesar and garden salads, and so on. The good news is you won’t drop more than $7.50 for the most expensive sandwich on the menu (skirt steak), you can get rye bread if you want a break from a boring bun, and each comes with a choice of french or cottage fries.
One side of the menu is devoted almost exclusively to appetizers, which are what many of the regulars order, our waitress told us. There are a couple of fun choices here, including Mickey’s spicy Italian sausage bites, served with honey mustard and giardiniera ($5.75), a corn dog basket with fries ($6.75) and a loaded baked potato, with melted cheddar, bacon bits, sour cream and chives ($4). Chicken wings come in orders of 10 ($7.50) and 20 ($11.75) and you can order 12- and 16-inch pizzas that start at $11.50.
What we tried: The combo basket started our meal – seven each of the fried mushrooms, zucchini and onion rings served with ranch dipping sauce ($7.50). Alas, it was pretty clear these were the straight-from-the-freezer-to-the-fryer variety, which meant they were fairly bland and processed. The ranch sauce came straight out of a salad dressing bottle.
Fortunately, the burgers we sampled were a definite step up, quarter-pound babies with a generous serving of fries. They had a fair amount of flavor, and plenty of cheese (we tried the cheddar and blue cheese options), and they weren't badly priced at $6.50-$6.75.
However, we had decidedly mixed feelings on the breaded chicken strips ($6.75), which were large and featured actual chicken rather than processed, but were also fairly bland and unmemorable. Given a choice of dipping sauces, we went with blue cheese over honey mustard, barbecue or buffalo. That was a mistake because, just like the ranch sauce, this came straight from the salad dressing aisle, i.e., loaded with sugar and about as close to blue cheese as grape candy is to grapes. Let’s just say that the leftovers consumed with actual blue cheese sauce fared much better. Too bad, too, because something small like that can make all the difference.
As for the salads, well, what they lacked in quality, they made up for in quantity and both were little highly priced for what you received. The garden salad ($5.50) was large and they didn’t stint on the cheddar cheese, but it came covered in white onions rather than the promised red and the tomatoes were a sickly pink. (Message to restaurants in general: If you can’t get good tomatoes in the winter, don’t put them in your salads or on top of your burgers. Better to go with nothing at all then to insult your diner with a hot-house special that only detracts from the meal.)
The chicken Caesar ($7.75) was more enticing, which a healthy serving of romaine, a fair amount of chicken and plenty of croutons, but the parmesan cheese was clearly store-bought and almost powder-like in its appearance, there more for decoration than for taste. Again, why not pop for something better quality and do the job right?
Service: No annoying hovering or constant interruptions with “How is everything?” requests. The waitress was attentive to drinks and the need for refills. However – and this is a personal pet peeve for which the waitress cannot be blamed -- items were served as they were prepared, meaning some folks were nearly done with their meals as others were being served. A good kitchen times things so everything is done nearly at the same time and no one’s left watching as others eat.
Address: 377 Budler Road, Romeoville
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.)