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Article posted: 12/7/2012 5:00 AM

Chubby Bullfrog combines sports bar, family-friendly grill


The Chubby Bullfrog Bar & Grill, a new sports bar and cafe set in a corner of a small strip mall a short distance west of Springhill Mall in West Dundee, is developing a neighborhood crowd of sports fans of all ages.

Watching professional and college sports on the five flat-screen TVs is the main draw. But a comfort food menu and plenty of beverages from the bar are other attractions that entice customers to stay awhile.

Motif: Chicago pro sports team logos painted on the walls provide the main décor element to this modestly furnished storefront. A mix of high-top and regular tables, all with comfortably padded chairs, offer unobstructed views of at least one TV screen.

Crowd: Multiple generations can feel comfortable here, including young families and grandparents. The place has a neighborhood gathering place feel about it, especially early in the evening. Sports fans generally get a little louder as the night wears on, especially if it's a close-scoring game.

Service: A friendly server came to our table promptly and delivered menus. She was not averse to asking the kitchen staff for answers to our food questions. When we inquired about the brands of the house wines, she obligingly brought the bottles so we could see the labels. We had no complaints about the pacing of our drink and food orders or the appropriate time to receive our check.

Food: The menu sections are starters, entrees, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, with the starters list being the longest. I asked for one of each of the three sliders in the combo offered -- hand-pressed ground beef, grilled chicken breast and pulled pork. The ground beef, which I ordered medium-rare, was excellent. The chicken was served plain without any sauce, which would be an improvement. The pulled pork was tender and doused in a sweet Chicago-style barbecue sauce.

Other starters include such bar food staples as nachos, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers. A couple of unusual items are listed -- deep-fried frog legs and the Chubby pretzel -- a giant pretzel served with cheese and spicy mustard for a whole table to share for $12.99.

The seven entree choices include a half chicken, meatloaf, cheese ravioli and a Friday fish fry, ranging in price from $7.99 to $11.99. Hand-pressed burgers appear to be a house specialty and can be ordered with one of six cheeses for $1 extra.

We tried the veggie burger, which we learned was a Southwest brand and spicier than we expected. A manager said it's likely that the brand will be changed shortly to a less-spicy one.

A variety of hot sandwiches, a veggie wrap, a soup of the day, chili and two salads also are available.

Liquid consumption: Beer and mixed drinks are the primary libations here, including a short list of specialty cocktails, most of which have a sweet component. One example, which we dared not try, named the Devastating Bullfrog Shot, contains both blackberry brandy and gin, bringing to mind some college party experiences I'd rather forget.

We were told that the bar does not make a Cosmo, but does make other kinds of martinis. We decided to order house wines to more or less pair with our food. The Sutter Home pinot grigio has little to recommend it, but the Estrella cabernet sauvignon was not bad for a house wine. Only four beers are on tap -- Miller Lite, Sam Adams Seasonal, Blue Moon and Hobgoblin -- and 20 more are available in bottles or cans. This is not a craft beer house, but there is a good variety of brews.

Parking: A parking lot for the strip mall appears to offer an adequate number of spaces, particularly since there are no other restaurants or bars in the mall, at least not at this point.

Overall: The Chubby Bullfrog offers a comfortable setting for catching the score, a drink or a meal. Serious sports fans intent on watching every play should find the small setting to their liking.

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