At the Hub, I Stick With the Known

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By Reham Alawadhi

Whenever anyone brings up the Hub, I immediately think of three things: the cheesy tots, the chicken pot pie, and the ice cream. Those are the only three things that I will eat while at the restaurant because one, they’re the best things available and two, I’ve had too many disappointments with other menu items.

20141024_160901The Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery is in downtown Tucson on 266 E Congress St. and is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight. In the bar and lounge area, customers can get $2 off all specialty cocktails, wines, wells, and beers, as well as half off on all non-seafood appetizers during happy hour 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10 p.m. to closing.
The design of the restaurant is a mix of industrial and retro-chic. There are high ceilings, left exposed to reveal the roof structure with its wooden pylons and aluminum air conditioning shafts. The red brick walls are rough-looking, adding to the industrial feel. There are brown ropes suspended from the ceiling and attached to back of the couches that line one of the walls. This enhances that retro chic look — along with lamps hanging upside down.

There’s a selection of starters, with prices that range from $8 to $13. There are two soup options, a roasted tomato and a soup of the day, both $4. There is an entire sub-category titled “Mac & Cheese,” which displays three options: classic ($7), Bacon ($9), and Lobster ($16.) The salad prices range from $8 to $15, depending on meat options. Adding bacon costs an extra $2; grilled chicken $4, and salmon $6. The burgers and sandwiches, served with fries or tater-tots, range from $10 to $15 and the main dishes range from $14 to $16.

For the starter I ordered the cheesy tater-tots — and they arrived piping hot within five minutes of ordering. These are no longer listed on the menu, but are still available on request. When I had them previously, they arrived with the cheese already poured on top. This time the cheese was served in a separate bowl. Myself, I prefer the cheese poured on top because once you stab a tot with your fork, it falls apart into tiny little pieces, making it impossible to dip in the cheese! We had to resort to using our forks like a spoon, carrying the tots into the bowl of cheese, dropping them inside and rolling them around, and then lifting them out once again.

Life is tough.

Still, we quickly forgot about how difficult it was to eat the tots once we actually tasted them because they were fried to a golden, crispy perfection. There was a parsley garnish sprinkled on top of the tots, which neither added nor took away from the taste. Still, it did make them look a lot fancier than merely a plate of tater-tots.

For my main dish I ordered the chicken pot pie ($14), which is filled with chicken, mushrooms, leeks, corn, carrots, peas, and potatoes mixed with a creamy sauce.  As you start to tear the top of the pie crust off, steam escapes, showing how “fresh out of the oven” the pie is. The crust is the perfect combination of light, crispy, doughy, and flaky textures.

Most places that serve savory pies kind of overdo it with the crust, and end up creating one that is too thick and overwhelming. You have to dig through to find the filling. But with the Hub’s pot pie, the filling was very hearty and plentiful because the chicken, potatoes, and carrots are cut into large chunks, and they use a large amount of leeks, peas, and corn. This put flavor in every bite.

And of course, you can’t go to the Hub without having the housemade ice cream. I got the Be Kind Crunch, which is the staple salted caramel flavor mixed with M&Ms and pretzels. I normally find the salted caramel flavor to be delicious but overwhelmingly rich and I can never finish the small cup because it gets too sweet. Oh well. Adding M&Ms and pretzels made it perfect because it added a much-needed crunch as well as some saltiness from the pretzels. It was very well balanced, rich and decadent.

It was kind of like an ice cream version of trail mix.

When I go to any restaurant regularly, I hate ordering the same thing each time. But at the Hub I make an exception because every time I try anything other than the chicken pot pie and the cheesy tots, I am disappointed.

The Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery

266 E Congress St.   –   520-207-8201    –    www.hubdowntown.com

  • Atmosphere: upscale chic restaurant/ice creamery/bar/lounge
  • Sound level: generally quiet, loud at night due to music and sometimes large crowds
  • Recommended: cheesy tater-tots, chicken pot pie, most ice cream flavors
  • Drinks and wine: variety of draft beers, wines, and cocktails
  • Prices: Starters $8 – $13, Soups $4, Mac & Cheese $7 – $16, Salads $8 – $15, Burgers and Sandwiches $10 -$15 and Main Dishes $14 – $16.
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight daily
  • Promotions: $2 off all specialty cocktails, wines, wells, and beers, as well as half off on all non-seafood appetizers during happy hour 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and during reverse happy hour from 10 p.m. to closing.

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