Dude Food: Chesterfield's Food & Spirits

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Chesterfield's Food & Spirits
2555 Inwood Road No. 143

Dude Factor: 9, or Recently Deceased Celebrity, on a scale of 1 (Not Wearing A Costume Because Halloween Is Satanic) to 10 (Devil)

Chesterfield's is a sports bar located at Maple and Inwood in an eclectic strip center that also includes a tattoo shop, check-cashing place, boat junkyard and, inexplicably, a fine wine shop. Before fellow Food Dude Noah and I even set foot in the place for lunch, I was already feeling optimistic just because of the location.

The inside proved just as promising as the exterior. It sported dartboards on just about every vertical surface along with plaques from the dart and pool leagues and a few eight-liner video slot machines. Commenters responding to last week's Question of the Week (How do you define 'dive bar'?) spent a lot of time and virtual ink pondering this question, but I think it can be answered with a yes or no question. Does the bar have eight-liners? If the answer is yes, it's a dive. Especially if, like Chesterfield's, one of the machines has a hand-written sign that says something like "Must verify with bartender. Machine not printing tickets."

We sat down at a table, leaving the bar to a couple of retirement-age regulars in work clothes, and the weathered bartender with a couple inches of shock-white roots showing under her violet-dyed hair took our drink orders. It would be happy hour until 7 p.m., making domestics $2.50 and imports $3.50. Guinness Stout and Dos Equis Lager appeared to be the only import options. Choosing Guinness as one of only two import options is a bold drink-menu decision, and one that immediately bumped up the place's score.

The menu was heavy on the battered-and-fried, with cheese sticks, poppers and "New 'Amazing' Spicy Fried Pickles" on the apps menu and corn dogs, chicken-fried steak, catfish and sandwiches among the entrees. The bartender enthusiastically vouched for the bacon cheeseburger, which both of us ordered, and pretty much left us alone to watch ESPN and scope the place.

I was particularly impressed by the row of uncushioned barstools along the window storefront. Welded together from metal pipe and scrap wheels, it would take a manly man to make them--and as they were left uncushioned, it would take a manly man to sit in them as well.

I also noticed how enthusiastically the place was decorated for Halloween, another commonality among dives. My theory is that they welcome the chance to put up fake cobwebs because then you can't see the real ones.

The wait for the burgers was long enough to nearly finish our beers, even sipping at a leisurely pace. But it was nice to know that they were actually making them fresh.

Eventually the food arrived. The portion of mediocre (probably frozen) O-rings was a bit skimpy, but the half-pound burger made up for it in size. The cheese was melty American, the bacon was crisp and the meat was generously seasoned but not overly salty. Not the best I've ever had, but pretty good for less than $7.

You could have a blast without ever leaving that particular strip mall. Cash your paycheck (or scrap your old John boat) and use the proceeds to get some fresh ink after first bracing yourself with a burger and a couple of cheap brews, then pick up a bottle of specialty vino to bring home to the lady afterward.

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