Everybody's welcome

. February 19, 2013.

Bridgewater Bank Tavern
8452 Boettner Rd.
Bridgewater, MI 48176
Phone: 734-429-5875
Mon-Thurs 11am-midnight
Fri-Sat: 11am-1am Sun: Closed

“I think this was a movie theater, like, 100 years ago because it has popcorn,” my eight-year-old son declared. I smiled. While my family of four stood beside a popcorn cart inside Bridgewater Bank Tavern, not a relic from the past, I was sure it never served moviegoers — just thirsty bar patrons.

The Bridgewater Bank Tavern, located in the quaint community of Bridgewater between Saline and Manchester, did begin as a bank in the 19th century. Hence, it's no wonder locals refer to it as “The Bank.” Since the 1970s, the Bank has been served burgers and brew rather than cash and checks. It claims to be voted the Best Tavern in Bridgewater — tongue-in-cheek endorsement for the town’s only eatery.

Family-friendly faves

This fall, two sisters from Saline, Sarah McClimon and Christina Spensley, became the latest owners. They hope to continue The Bank’s tradition of good food and cold beer. While some bars merely tolerate families, The Bank seems to embrace them. The décor is pleasing, a compromise between your favorite bar and your favorite diner, with clean booths and tables mixed easily amongst beer signs and TVs.

The menu has plenty of family-friendly items at reasonable prices. Kids can choose from burgers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, chicken tenders, grilled PB&J or pepperoni pizza, all for $4.99 including a drink. Adults have their pick of numerous bar staples: burgers, soups, salads, chili, hoagies, sandwiches, Mexican dishes and specials including ribs. Everything is homemade.

My eyes were drawn to the selection of Bridgewater’s famous half-pound certified Hereford beef burgers. The bleu olive burger with green olives and melted bleu cheese sounded interesting, but I settled on the pepper bacon burger with pepper jack cheese, sautéed onions and bacon. My husband ordered the special, a full rack of BBQ ribs. My son selected a cheeseburger while my four-year-old daughter chose chicken tenders. Our healthy lifestyle would have to pardon us for one night.

Enormity never hurt

The burgers my son and I ordered were enormous. Turns out our server brought him the regular version, not the kids, since he had pointed to that when ordering. He consumed half before surrendering. Meanwhile, I made a bigger dent in my burger. The pepper jack cheese provided spice, the onions a touch of sweetness, and the bacon was full-on fatty bliss. Next time I would order my patty cooked medium, rather than medium well, for juicier flavor.

My daughter was content with her chicken tenders and fries, always a kid pleaser. My husband sat in shock at the size of his full rack of ribs. “How many ribs you going to eat?” my son asked him. “All of them,” he replied. “You’re a man!” exclaimed my son. My husband raved about the ribs while devouring them, calling them “unbelievable.”

Ready to share
We relaxed a while after eating, watching a Red Wings game, before we rallied for dessert. There was only one selection: pumpkin cheesecake. One creamy slice was enough for the four of us to share considering how much we had already eaten.

How would I describe our experience at Bridgewater Bank Tavern? Let me turn to my husband who unwittingly provided the perfect recap: “Good beers on tap, great food, pretty drive.”

To avoid wait: Go early on Friday and Saturday nights or weeknights
Noise level: Moderate to high
Bathroom amenities: No changing tables
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? Yes
Kids’ menu? Yes
Anything healthy for kids? Um, it’s bar food!
Food allergy concerns? Talk with your server or call ahead.

Katy M. Clark lives with her family in Saline.