The Pepper Burger & Other Reasons O’Reilly’s Rocks!
Posted by cmh gourmand on April 7, 2011
I have mentioned O’Reilly’s a few times over the years, most recently as the inspiration for the Clintonville Cocktail and the Clintonville Cocktail Royale. I might not want you to go to O’Reillys. I might not want O’Reilly’s to be more crowded so I can’t find a booth or barstool. I might use O’Reilly’s as a litmus test. But I might as well tell you about O’Reilly’s.
There are fifteen bars (give or take) in Clintonville. This may come as a shock since Clintonville is well known for having quirky and archaic alcohol laws and dry zones. I have been to every bar in Clintonville and most of them are, well, maybe there is a reason parts of Clintonville should be dry, let’s leave it at that. O’Reilly’s is a good bar. It is a very good tavern. It is a spot that makes Baja Clintonville a great place to be.
If the maxim “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” was ever better applied I have not yet found that example. O’Reilly’s reminds me of the bars you find in most small Ohio towns. It is dark, maybe a little dumpy or “divey”. Because it has an Irish name it is infused with real and fake Irish bric-a-brac for character. The bar is sunken. There are a few characters you can expect to see there every day on one side of the bar or another. The staff have been there for years, some have been there for decades. Ann Marie is the kind of woman that is likely to lose her car keys daily but if you walk through the door once she is likely to remember what you want to drink and your name the next time you drop by. Johnny, the main grill cook makes an occasional appearance in the front end of the business. His personality and demeanor are more suited and more happy in the kitchen and for that we are all better off. Tom comes across as abrasive, surly and ill-tempered but don’t be taken aback by that because he is that way with everyone and it serves to amuse him and his regular customers the first time he encounters a new person walking through the door. The beer selection is not so great but O’Reilly’s pours a good Guinness properly. There is a Galaga machine in the corner, a respectable juke box and a selection of board games to play. These things combined make O’Reilly’s a good bar to go to. The menu makes it THE bar to go to in Clintonville.
Villbillies, as long time residents of Clintonville, are called have all eaten at O’Reilly’s in their lifetime. There is some debate on what is best on the menu. Everyone seems to have one or two items they get everytime. This is an interesting phenomenon to observe. The common answer when asked about the menu at O’Reilly’s is “I don’t know, I always get ___________”. The burgers are a common favorite. I have tried them all. I like them all. However, the one I always get is the Pepper Burger with a side of sweet potato fries.
The pepper burger is 1/2 pound of hamburger encased in cracked black pepper. The misshapen, handmade patty is topped with pepperjack cheese, plenty of pickles, provlone and bacon. The bun is fresh and light toasted so it does not collapse from the weight of the contents. The sweet potato fries are also hand made and served with some type of secret sauce. Place a dill pickle on the plate, add a pint and a glass of water and my meal is complete. When I walk through the door at O’Reilly’s this is what I want. If this is what I get then I am truly content when I walk out the door.
The other burgers do deserve a mention: Bacon BBQ, Mushroom and Onion, The Deluxe Cheeseburger. My secondary burger of choice is the Jerk Burger (aka The Tom Burger, this is not me being mean, this is on the menu). The Jerk is slathered with spicy, peppery, tangy, jerk sauce. I suggest American Cheese with this one.
O’Reilly’s does Saturday morning breakfast specials September to May. You can order Egg Salad and Tuna Salad Sandwiches May to September. There is a daily dinner special which varies by the day and the week. If you get O’Reilly’s then I will probably get you.
2822 North High Street