Raise Your Glass To Finnegan’s
If you’re going to sit at the bar, it helps to be fast on your feet.
Finnegan’s general manager Tom Forte, the affable presence behind the bar for the last 24 years, is quick with a joke and loves a good story – ask him about the time a guy tried to pay his tab with a fish, for starters.
But most of all, Tom and the Lessing’s Corporation are stewards of a 101-year-old tradition brimming with history unparalleled in the village, classic hospitality, an undeniable hometown charm – and one heck of a Reuben.
Tom’s worked with all five owners, including the first, Bill Finnegan, who, in his early 80s, was still tending bar for the second owner, Rusty Petit, when Tom came on board. Of the pictures on the walls, Tom estimates about half are still alive, and families love to come by and reminisce; he’s also fond of digging into a collection of yearbooks to remind people of what they looked like way back when.
Fitting for a place that has become a cornerstone of countless gatherings, high school reunions and college get-togethers, the menu has a little something for everyone, and it’s meant for sharing.
Wings are a standout ($8.95 small, $10.95 large) and are crispy, yet juicy and full of flavor. Braised Short Rib Sliders ($8.95) pair tender beef, savory gravy and classic potato pancakes between a mini-potato bun, while chicken fingers ($8.50) add zesty seasoning to classic finger food. Hot spinach and artichoke dip ($8.95) is always a crowd-pleaser, while Southwestern Chicken spring Rolls ($9.25) bring a little zest and spice to the table. And you can’t go wrong with warm and crispy-doughy Bavarian Pretzel bites ($8.95.)
Certified Angus beef burgers ($8.95) are a classic staple of the Finnegan’s experience and are dressed to your specifications (add 95 cents per topping); and a list of classic favorites fill the dinner menu.
Tops on our list is the Corned Beef Reuben ($9.25), the classic pairing of corned beef, dark rye, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut and paired with zesty Thousand Island dressing.
Cod Fish & Chips ($15.95) is tender and mild, served with traditional tartar sauce and a malt-vinegar dip that really brings out the classic beer-battered treatment. And Killer Mac & Cheese ($11.95), a medley of Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Pepper Jack and Mozzarella, pepper jack and a little mozzarella, is comfort food done right. Dress it up with pulled pork or chicken for $3.95; also do keep an eye out for the daily $14.95 dinner specials, which rotate every day.
You’ll certainly be able to enjoy Tom and his hospitality for a number of years to come. While he’s looking to retire, he’s aiming at a round number – either age 70, or 50 years in the business. Until then, he’ll be making hustling at the bar look like poetry in motion.
And how is he so spot-on with what his regulars drink, you ask? It’s just part of the trade.
“I’m better with drinks than names,” he explained. “I’ll remember a drink from 20 years ago before I remember your name – That’s just how bartenders are.”