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Globe South Dining Out

Comfort food in a comfy setting

At Abington Ale House, the Tuscan salmon was served with asparagus and Parmesan mashed potatoes. At left is the taco salad. At Abington Ale House, the Tuscan salmon was served with asparagus and Parmesan mashed potatoes. At left is the taco salad.
December 6, 2009

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Abington Ale House
1235 Bedford St., Abington
Monday to Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday noon to 11 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible
781-871-6811; www.abingtonalehouse.com

Remember when this restaurant was called Teel’s Cabin? I sure do.

Teel’s was a landmark on Route 18, famous for its family-friendly atmosphere, warm cornbread, and all-you-can-eat specials. My mother used to take me there when I was a kid. She would look on proudly as my brother and I downed several plates of food in one sitting. With appetites like ours, I wondered how the place managed to stay in business.

That was over 20 years ago. Teel’s Cabin is no more, but the place is still a restaurant, with the same owners. After a few different incarnations over the years, the Barrett family renovated the space in 1996 and reopened it as the Abington Ale House.

Just like Teel’s Cabin, the Ale House is known for its generous portions, affordable prices, and friendly service. It has also become famous for its free birthday meals - if you eat there on your birthday, they will give you a complimentary entree (just make sure to bring proof.)

The place still has a homey, country-kitchen feel. Strings of Christmas lights adorn the front of the red Colonial-style building on Route 18, and little lights are strung along the shrubbery and the country wagon on the front lawn. Six enormous wooden statues hold court in front of the restaurant. To the right of the entrance are three giant wood-carved bears, and to the left, three large monkeys striking the familiar “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’’ pose.

Inside, the atmosphere is casual and laid-back. Plaid carpeting covers the floor, and knotty pine wood paneling defines the walls. The dining room is brightly lit, with plenty of roomy booths that can seat a family of five or six comfortably. There’s a function room, as well as a lounge area that is basically a standard sports bar, offering Keno and live entertainment after 9:30 p.m.

To say the decor is eclectic would be an understatement. Every inch of space along the wood-paneled walls is filled with weird knickknacks.

Look around, and you’ll see a shiny ceramic bust of the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. That’s displayed on a clear glass shelf, alongside the Lion and Tin Man. On another wall, you’ll find miniature pandas, a wooden antique radio, Mark Twain, and Rocky Marciano memorabilia. There are framed portraits of clowns, as well as figurines of cats, jazz musicians, firemen, golfers, and Mickey Mouse. There’s even a honest-to-goodness, real-life stuffed Alaskan wolf encased in glass in the middle of the restaurant. It sits there silently, with its head thrown back and mouth open, forever caught in mid-howl.

Befitting its name, the Abington Ale House has 17 beers on tap, and a smaller selection by the bottle.

The kitchen serves American comfort food, and the menu includes such staples as burgers, chicken pot pie, steak tips, and meatloaf. On a recent visit, we started our meal by sampling fresh baked bread ($1.29) served on a wooden cutting board beside a tub of butter. We used the knife to cut thick slices from the round loaf, which was still warm from the oven and tasted wonderful.

For the main course, my mother ordered the Rustic Three Cheese Mac ($11), a bowl of penne and bits of spicy andouille sausage smothered by a blanket of bright orange cheddar cheese and Parmesan breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs were underneath the cheese, not on top.

I ordered one of the specials: Tuscan salmon ($13) served with a heaping scoop of Parmesan mashed potatoes and a few spears of asparagus. The salmon fillet was huge, and tasty. Homemade basil pesto sauce was brushed over the top of the fillet. The edges were slightly dry, but the rest of the fish was tender, and it tasted great. Being a veggie lover, I would have liked a few more spears of asparagus.

One of my aunts ordered the Ale House burger ($9). She said it was delicious and cooked to perfection. Usually their 8-ounce burger is topped with beefsteak tomatoes, Bermuda onion, and iceberg lettuce, but my aunt prefers hers plain and cooked “extremely’’ well-done. And that is exactly how her dish arrived, just like she ordered it.

My other aunt ordered the baked scrod ($14) which was lightly breaded with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked in a sauce of lemon, butter, and white wine. It came with Parmesan mashed potatoes and butternut squash. My aunt said everything was cooked perfectly, the filet was moist and tender, and overall, it was a good meal.

We also tried the taco salad ($10). This enormous dish consisted of shredded iceberg lettuce topped with multicolored tortilla strips, seasoned ground beef, shredded mild cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes and red onions, and generous scoops of sour cream and salsa. The portions were huge.

Our waitress was very friendly, and told us about the restaurant’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion: if you buy a gift certificate this month you’ll be entered into a raffle. Prizes include a remote car starter, Bruins and Celtics tickets, and free rounds of golf at Granite Links.

Overall, we were pleased with our dinner at the Abington Ale House, and impressed by the service. The price was right, and we had plenty of leftovers to take home.

EMILY SWEENEY