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Cheap Eats; Clinton's Dish is a welcome addition at Canalside

We've heard of businesses being referred to as a shack, but in the case of Clinton's Dish, it's true.

Opened just a few weeks, this super-casual, small eatery located at Canalside looks like a shack. It's made, in part, of recycled wood from a 100-year-old barn. The name, chosen through a contest, honors Gov. DeWitt Clinton, who opened the canal in 1825.

Whatever its size, it's a much-needed addition to the downtown waterfront, where visitors and workers alike are clamoring for a spot to grab something quick and enjoy the scenery.

It's right at the heart of Canalside, where all sorts of wonderful events have been happening this summer including concerts like Thursday at the Square, and free daily events for all ages. (From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, for example, Explore & More Children's Museum will be on hand; at 4 p.m., see the African American Cultural Center's Dance & Drum Performance Company.) A sand area is set up for the kids right behind Clinton's Dish.

Walk down the cobblestone streets just seconds from Main Street and the Metro tracks and you'll find Clinton's Dish in a parklike setting. Go to the window, place your order and find a spot at one of the nearby picnic tables or colorful Adirondack chairs. It's that easy. The menu isn't big or fancy, but it has the right choices -- hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, wraps, plus green salads for the more health-conscious. (If you forgot your cash, there's an ATM right next to the eatery, along with a pop and water machine.)

Kristy, Cindy and I took a quick walk over from the office and ordered a veggie burger ($5.25), chicken sandwich ($5.75) and roast beef wrap ($4.95), plus a side macaroni salad ($2.25) and fruit dish ($3.25). The food quickly arrived and we picked a sunny table right by the water. A co-worker joined us with his cheeseburger ($3.85) and potato salad ($2.25) and we all dove right in and devoured the food in minutes.

Cindy's roast beef wrap came with cheddar cheese, tomatoes and lettuce rolled up in a sizable wheat wrap. It was filling but a bit moist on the bottom, signaling that it was probably premade and sitting for a bit. Other wraps included turkey, egg salad and tuna ($4.75-$5.75). My chicken sandwich came on a nondescript white roll with lettuce and tomato. Basic, yes, but the chicken was plump and juicy, too.

Kristy was so pleased with her veggie burger she held it up so we could see the real veggie pieces such as corn and carrots that she said made the burger crispy and delicious.

The macaroni and potato salads epitomized the menu: plain, but good. They were both prepared in a simple way to appeal to most palates: mayonnaise, perhaps some salad dressing to add sweetness and celery. "It could be sassier," Kristy said about the macaroni salad.

We sorely missed being able to order fries (not on the menu), although the wraps came with a small bag of chips (a nice gesture would be to have all sandwiches come with chips).

The eatery's Perry's ice cream sign was tempting, but we were surprisingly full. We'll be back, though, especially after seeing the size of the "small" cone ($3) being enjoyed by a grinning boy.

We all had the same opinion on everything at Clinton's Dish: no-frills food, cooked well and served against a killer waterfront backdrop.




2 1/2 pennies (out of four)

"No-frills food, great location"

WHERE: Canalside

HOURS: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Labor Day


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