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Cheap eats

Kronies, the friendly bar on Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore that has recently started serving food, was down to its last half-penny with us. Then something wonderful happened -- the food arrived.

Ruth and Dan, John and I showed up there about 6:30 p.m. on a Friday, so we expected it to be busy. We were told the wait would be about 20 minutes, but it ended up being 40. Even that was OK, since the place has just 11 tables and a group of 14 was ahead of us.

Our soup ($3) was served fairly quickly, and it was extremely good. Ruth's creamy tomato basil soup was fresh and nicely seasoned, and Dan and I raved over the New England clam chowder, which was creamy and buttery, with plenty of tender clams.

We waited as the group of 14 ordered, had their dinners served, finished their dinners and contemplated the dessert menu. We waited (drum roll, please!) until 8:25 p.m., five minutes short of two hours.

But then the food arrived, and all was forgiven. Ruth's Creole Pasta ($13), served in a big flat soup bowl, was creamy-spicy and studded with large shrimp and bits of ham. John's battered fish fry ($8.75), made with cod, was the largest we've seen anywhere, and that's saying something. The fish was accompanied by a pile of crunchy matchstick fries, coleslaw and pasta salad. Dan's half-pound Burger ($7.25), on a soft roll, was juicy and meaty.

There was something odd about my Meatloaf and Mac and Cheese ($9), which was served with four lonely spears of asparagus. The twin meatloaf slices were thick, if a bit dense and underherbed, but holy cow! Something on the plate was hot, hot, hot! The server said it might have been the tomato sauce on the meatloaf, but I was also suspicious of the mac and cheese, which John thought had a spicy aftertaste. A burning mouth was not what I was expecting from a plate of comfort food.

So I needed dessert to extinguish the fire, and was I ever glad. The mocha cheesecake ($4) was sweet, rich and satisfying, and the lemon tart ($4) was light and intensely lemony. Dan said it was as good as his mother's lemon pie. The server told us that Beth the bartender made the desserts, and we were amazed and impressed.

So here's the lowdown on Kronies: Don't go on Friday nights between 6:30 and 8 p.m., or you'll be standing in the bar with the rest of us. They serve the fish fry every day. And don't skip dessert.

Kronies Bar and Grill

2692 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore

874-4464

Review: 3 1/2 pennies (Out of 4)

Kronies serves food from 11 a.m. daily. From Monday through Wednesday, the kitchen is open until 9 or 10 p.m.; from Thursday until Sunday, the kitchen stays open until "whenever." It is handicapped-accessible.

-- Anne Neville

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