Merchant Row is where you’ll find Klig’s Union Depot, which I remember as the cool, old depot Liberty Station.
Known for its excellent fare and decorated in railroad memorabilia, the most noticeable piece of history was the old train caboose that had been turned into a dining space. I had some memorable meals there, but I had not been back since the fire in 2012.
Fast forward to present day: The place has been completely remodeled, and it is now bright and cheery. Klig’s has a huge bar area that seats more than a dozen, and there are also several tables and video poker machines that populate the space.
Beyond the bar is a dining area with seating enough for 30 people, and up a short flight of stairs is the infamous caboose that provides an intimate eating area for 16 more.
We visited on a hot, muggy Friday around 5:30 p.m. We chose to sit outside at one of several tables with umbrellas on the patio. It was quiet, so we were able to have a long “catch-up” talk while hoping for a breeze.
We started with drinks to stave off the sultry weather. Our friendly server told us about the bar’s “whiskey club,” which is free to join. The idea is to “sample” from the 20 different types of whiskey offerings. Rumor has it the owner is quite knowledgeable about whiskey, and the selection is great.
I became a club member and thoroughly enjoyed a Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey ($6.75). Jennifer and Helene cooled off with Moscow mules ($4) served in traditional copper mugs. Amazingly, we quickly acclimated to the above-average dew point.
Our server came out to offer us menus, inform us of the daily specials and chat. She was knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. It seemed she enjoyed being there as much as we did.
For appetizers, we selected the cowboy corn bites ($6.50) and the pork tenderloin bites ($6.99).
We weren’t quite sure what to expect when the cowboy bites arrived, and we were pleasantly surprised. Deep-fried balls of sweet corn kernels, jalapenos and cream cheese were served with a ranch dipping sauce. It was an explosion of complimentary flavors.
The shredded pork tenderloin, which is battered in-house, was fried, tender and very appetizing. We were happy with our choices, and there was plenty to go around.
Someone had to rate the burgers, right? I went for a “boxcar burger” with added garlic mayo ($6.49) on a toasted bun with lettuce and tomato. I like a simple burger, and this was excellent. I paired it with a side of fries.
Jennifer chose to order the two-piece Friday night fish fry ($11.95) as her entree. When she noticed homemade potato pancakes as a side, she didn’t hesitate.
Two good-sized pieces of golden, deep-fried cod arrived along with two enormous potato pancakes, a side of coleslaw and a roll with butter. The fish was prepared perfectly—crispy on the outside, flaky in the middle.
The potato pancakes, which were well-seasoned cakes flavored with onion and garlic, were to die for. Delectably moist and served with maple syrup, they absolutely melted in your mouth. (Yes, we all had to have a taste.)
Nikki also opted for fish as an entree. She picked the fish tacos ($9.95) after hearing it was a popular and well-loved dish. The tacos consisted fried cod chunks on flour tortillas, topped with chopped cabbage, tomatoes and shredded cheese. Like Jennifer’s meal, the fish was great. The highlight of the dish was the spicy dipping sauce that accompanied the tacos and added just the right amount of heat.
Klig’s offers two types of wasabi chicken—one on a toasted bun and another in a flour tortilla wrap, both for the same price ($6.99). Both included lettuce, tomato, onion and wasabi sauce.
After the server said Helene might hear the hallelujah chorus when she got the wasabi head rush, Helene decided on the wrap and splurged on onion rings (added $1.50). It was a good decision. While she did not experience flashes of the celestial choir, her taste buds were left singing.
With the comforting and welcoming setting and the night heat lifting off the ground, we chatted for a long time after our meal. It was nearly dark when we decided it was time to head home.
The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.