The Pickled Onion on Rantoul Street, Beverly
A few weeks ago I made mention of a new branch of articles I'll be writing, Bar and Nightclub Spotlights from around the North Shore. These reviews serve as a guide to some of the brightest stops on the party train. I’ve decided on ranking bars based on 3 simple criteria:
1. Atmosphere, how does it feels when you walk in, does everyone turn and stare at you or are they more interested in who’s already there?
2. Drink Selection, this is essential for a pub anywhere, and also, how well are the drinks mixed?
3. Bartenders/Staff, gatekeepers of the all-mighty hangover, Bartenders are what keeps a bar together and running smoothly, are the bartenders steadily working to thin the lines or do they take their time?
When all is said and done, the top bars are awarded 3 full mugs of beer. The good bars get 2 and anything else below that may be considered avoidable.
This week we take a close look at the Pickled Onion, a favorite of college students and casual drinkers as well, in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Over the past week or so I’ve had the luxury of being a part of some rather lively and rowdy crowds at the Onion. When you enter the bar, from either entrance, those within tend to give off a welcoming vibe. There are a number HD flat screens around the bar and seating area, providing quality views throughout the bar. There is seating both at the bar and at tables, if you prefer a more private setting. There is space to dance, however not an over-abundance as the dance floor doubles as table space. I attended the pub on three separate occasions and there was a DJ each time, no doubt the result of many college students being on break and available to go to the bar. While smaller than some of the larger bars of the north shore, there’s still plenty of excitement to be had at the Pickled.
Rating: 3/4 Full Mug
This is where I believe the Onion truly shines. The drinks are never watered down and to the contrary, are fairly strong. They are able to make any concoction that suits your fancy, including Irish Carbombs, Sex on the Beach, and Blue Hawaiians, to name a few. They also have a number of ales on tap such as UFO, Stella Artois, and Budweiser, as well as bottled beverages available in a refrigerator behind the bar.
Rating: 1 Full Mug
The staff of the Pickled Onion are workhorses to say the least. One of the nights I attended was seemingly the busiest of the year; the entire bar was standing room only. And yet, the wait for a drink couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes. The staff is always in a rush to fill orders and seem to dictate the tempo of the bar. When they aren’t drenched in drink orders, they actually make an effort to talk with some of the guests of the bar. A careful eye can even spot the owner on occasion, working diligently to keep his machine running smooth.
Rating: 1 Full Mug
I quite enjoy the Onion with its Karaoke nights, dart games, and lively patrons. Beyond the alcohol, they also have a dynamic menu with tantalizing treats from steak tips to .15 wings on Tuesdays. If there was one area for them to improve I would say it has to be the space issue. For the Pickled Onion to truly compete with larger bars, such as the Tavern in Salem, it would be wise to attempt an expansion project, such as moving the DJ and dance floor upstairs and place surround sound speakers throughout the bar, so everyone can hear the beats of the night. Overall I’m very pleased with my experiences at the Onion and would recommend the establishment to both the avid drinker and those just turning 21.
Final Rating: 2 and ¾ Mugs
Good Sport Award:
While dancing I managed to drop and shatter a glass on the dancefloor. The bartenders and staff were really nice about it and didn't kick yours truly out into the cold. Maybe they thought it was a good show, I'll take it.