George’s Lounge Review: Expansive menu of tasty eats

When someone mentions grabbing dinner in downtown Canton, my first suggestion is usually George’s Lounge. The Canton mainstay dates back to 1959 and is the second-oldest continually operating bar in downtown Canton. Its current iteration in the downtown Arts District is known for its inexpensive drinks and uniquely delicious bar food.

4.1/5 stars
Taste: Some misses but an overall delicious experience.
Service: On the slow side but friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.
Ambiance: It’s a dive bar in the best way but still a dive bar.
Concept: Straightforward on the surface but unique and perfectly weird on a closer look.
Pricing: Plenty of cheaper options, especially for the quality and taste.

When someone mentions grabbing dinner in downtown Canton, my first suggestion is usually George’s Lounge.

The Canton mainstay dates back to 1959 and is the second-oldest continually operating bar in downtown Canton. Its current iteration in the downtown Arts District is known for its inexpensive drinks and uniquely delicious bar food.

It’s also almost always packed. Space is definitely at a premium, especially during live music performances, and George’s offers plenty of shows.

At peak hours, the U-shaped bar that fills most of the pub, rows of booths and cozy back room are often crammed. More than once, we’ve walked in the front door, saw the crowd and walked back out.

I’ve always enjoyed the times we have managed to snag a seat, and I was excited to give George’s a deeper dive.

I’m already looking forward to more return trips. On top of the expansive menu, George’s also offers a weekly Saturday brunch, a decent beer selection and rotating monthly burgers and milkshakes named by Facebook fans.

I can only eat so many burgers, so I enlisted some help on this review. If Dave and I are in downtown Canton, we’re with our good friends Elyse and Jon. I couldn’t think of anyone better to help us eat our way through the menu. We grabbed an early dinner on a Thursday in May. Luckily, we beat the rush and secured a booth in the main bar area.

Always indecisive, we started with the Bar Bite Flight ($9.99) to sample as many deep-fried appetizers as we could. We opted for pretzel poppers (we went with jalapeño, but pepperoni is also available) over chicken, a regrettable decision. The pretzel popper is more like pretzel bread that, while tasty, was missing the actual jalapeño.

The rest of the plate fared much better. The pretzel bites, onion rings and old-fashioned chips were perfectly crispy and delicious. The onion rings were especially great and reminded us of the beautiful deep-fried creations you find at a county fair.

George’s has an awesome selection of dipping sauces (99 cents each or three for $2.49). The Spicy Thai Peanut and Blue Ribbon Beer Cheese were both excellent—the beer cheese was creamy and indulgent, and the Thai peanut was a great blend of seriously spicy and sweet.

The fried cheese curds ($4.99/$8.99) were gooey and rich, though a bit too salty and paired well with a side of marinara sauce.

George’s is known for its grass-fed gourmet burgers. And for good reason. These are not your typical bar burgers. They feature creative toppings that, on the surface, often sound like they shouldn’t work but always do.

The Gorgeous George ($12.99) was a double hamburger cooked a perfect medium rare and topped with crispy bacon, sautéed onions and mushrooms, an ideally yolky fried egg and kamikaze sauce. The burger itself needed a bit more seasoning, but the overall effect was delicious and satisfying.

We paired this burger with pickle chips ($2.99 up-charge, $4.99/$8.99 as an appetizer) that were briny and delicious but so salty it was a struggle to finish them.

The Three Kings ($10.99) is an indecisive eater’s dream. It’s three sliders—the Big O’Nesto (bacon, fried egg, American cheese), the King George (jerk spice, blue cheese, bacon, mushrooms) and the Blue Ribbon (PBR beer cheese and soaked onions, bacon, ranch)—letting you eat three gourmet burgers in one go. The sliders were tasty but definitely on the dry side. And while I liked the variety, they just work better in a larger format.

The side of mac & cheese ($2.99 up-charge) was cheesy but thin. I enjoyed the flavor, but the texture could use some work.

The Spinach Art-Ichoke ($9.99) is one of the oddest burgers I’ve ever had, but I can’t wait to eat it again. It combines fried balls of decadent spinach artichoke dip, crispy leaves of fried spinach, marinated tomatoes and creamy smoked Gouda for an indulgent burger with just the right mix of acid and fat. The only downside was the wheat bun that fell apart in my hands.

I love George’s handcut skin-on fair fries. We took it a step further this time and upgraded them to the Poutine-Age Mutant Ninja Curdles ($2.99 up-charge, $6.99/$9.99 appetizer), a take on the Canadian classic with whiskey maple gravy and cheese curds. I loved the richness of the gravy and cheese, and while the strong maple sweetness was a surprise, it made for a weirdly delicious plate of fries.

George’s also offers a build-your-own burger option and plenty of swap options including trading beef for chicken, a turkey burger or a veggie burger, and swapping sandwich buns for a bed of greens or a waffle. I appreciate the variety and the ability to customize food to meet dietary concerns or preferences.

Ordering a salad at a bar bites-focused joint is always a risk, but it’s one that pays off here.

The Johnny Apple Cheese ($8.99) is an excellent mix of barbecued chicken (we opted for grilled), thin slices of apple, Swiss cheese and roasted peanuts paired with creamy blue cheese dressing. The salad is flavorful enough without the dressing—the combination of apple, peanuts and barbecue sauce is one I didn’t know was missing from my life until now—but the blue cheese adds a great richness and funk to the dish.

I was incapable of eating another bite after dinner, but I had to try George’s raved-about milkshakes. Since it’s a quick walk from the About offices, I grabbed dessert for lunch. The Maple Cream shake ($4.99) was almost too sweet on the first sip, but as the maple syrup settled into the handmade (I assume; it really tastes homemade) whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, it became the perfect midday treat.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass