Setting the Table
Tongy’s Shmack House has been open approximately two months in the University Commons shopping center across U.S. 501 from Coastal Carolina University, and since its liquor license was approved on Dec. 7 more diners are checking out its interesting menu and comfortable sports bar atmosphere.
Tongy’s partners are the brothers Leek - Blake, Dustin and Chad - and Dominic Fragomeni. The term “shmack” is their slang for someone who has been imbibing spirits.
The restaurant was formerly Chantz Sports Bar & Grill, and before that it was N’Zone Sports Bar & Grill. Tongy’s has basically the same layout as both those places, with a square bar in the rear of the large room, near the kitchen, surrounded by cocktail tables and booths.
To the left of the front door are three coin-operated pool tables, and several televisions are tuned to various sports. When we visited on Dec. 8 for lunch, a television showing a college basketball game had its sound hooked to the restaurant’s speakers. We thought it was a bit too loud, but then again neither team was one we cared about.
Out front on the sidewalk is a cornhole game set-up, which is also where smokers go to have cigarettes.
Down the Hatch
The menu is a pleasant surprise for a college sports bar. It lists several dishes you’d expect, such as Cheese Fries, Wings, Nachos, sandwiches and burgers, but much effort went into designing a clever menu, and the dishes’ executions puts Tongy’s on a much higher plane than most sports bars I’ve visited.
Appetizers are $5-$9 and include Guacamole; from-scratch Meme’s Jalapeno Poppers where fire roasted jalapeno halves are filled with cream cheese spread and baked; and El Duderino Skins where potato skins are filled with barbecue chicken, cheese, bacon and fresh chives.
My son, his girlfriend and I tried Buckeye Bruschetta and were blown away by the addition of a shmear of spicy crab dip on the crostini that’s topped with diced tomato, mozzarella and fresh cilantro. We now think all bruschetta should have crab dip on it.
Six salads are $8-$9, and a couple of those are Strawberry Fields Forever with spinach, red onion, almonds, strawberries, blueberries, feta, warm pita and strawberry vinaigrette; and The Dizzy Dezzy with romaine, spring mix, red bell peppers, Mandarin oranges, cashews, edamame, water chestnuts, sweet chili, wonton strips and Mandarin sesame dressing.
Eight sandwiches are $7-$8 and come with a sweet and crunchy house-made slaw that does not contain mayonnaise. Fries instead of slaw cost an extra buck; onion rings are an extra $1.50.
My son devoured the We’re Just Friends sub where a small soft Mexican bolillo bun is filled with shaved ribeye that’s “slow cooked in…Portuguese red pepper sauce,” according to the menu, pickles, banana peppers and Swiss cheese. I enjoyed the flavors and textures in my Thaitanic Wrap, with lettuce, edamame, water chestnuts, red bell pepper and crunchy wonton strips. However, while grilled chicken is an option with this wrap, it is supposed to come filled with grilled shrimp unless chicken is requested. I was given chicken instead of shrimp, and I didn’t ask for it.
Another diner had the That’ll Do Pig pulled pork sandwich that looked fantastic, with pulled pork in tomato-based barbecue sauce topped with slaw and an onion ring.
Six burgers are $7-$8 (and again, fries are a buck extra), and the young woman in our group had the Turkish Burgeris Maximus, which is a large turkey burger with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, bacon and jack cheese. She ate almost every bite and opted for the fries, which were hand-cut, crunchy and well seasoned.
One $5 dessert is on the Tongy’s menu: An Oreo cookie, a Twinkie and a mini Snickers bar skewered on a stick, battered, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. You can add vanilla ice cream for an additional $1.
Tongy’s has a full bar, and the beer list is developing. We had a Stella Artois for $3.50 and a Guinness for $3.75, and word is the establishment is going to add many craft beer choices.
By the time we left around 1:45 p.m., several college students had come in to shoot pool, eat, drink and watch the games.