It had been awhile since my friend, Pap Ricka and I had ventured into a sports bar in Hagerstown and thought we would visit Break Away II Sports Lounge on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown.
There were several big green signs for Break Away that said “Food, Spirits, Billiards,” but we couldn’t tell anything about the place from the outside — there are no windows.
We walked in the front door and into a full-fledged liquor store. Beer, wine and liquor were all for sale. That explained the “Spirits” part of the sign. A clerk/waitress greeted us from a doorway and we could see the dining room just beyond.
As we walked into the restaurant portion of Break Away we saw the large bar to the right. Elevated tables and chairs, some small and some large, were placed throughout the room. We could sit anywhere we liked.
Just ahead was another large room with many pool tables. That explained the “Billards” part of the sign. Off to the left was a third room with lots of tables and chairs and a couple more pool tables.
With no windows, it was a bit dark, but the atmosphere was lively. This was my first trip to Break Away, but it seemed to me that many of the patrons were regulars. There were lots of guys with ball caps sitting at the bar, chatting and joking with the waitresses and one another. At one table, two women were sharing dinner and a couple of beers. At another group of friends were finishing up their meal. A young couple played pool in the adjoining room.
The décor was pure bar. Signs about beer and sports filled the walls. One sign advertised the cost of oyster shooters. Another listed specials for the day.
Our waitress came over, gave us menus and took our drink orders. There were a number of beers on tap and a full bar. We ordered a couple of beers and checked out the menu.
At heart, Break Away is a bar. It doesn’t pretend to be elegant. Its menu offerings are just what you expect at a bar — burgers (all of them beef), sandwiches, salads and lots of appetizers.
The sandwiches included tuna, grilled cheese, Reubens and Philly cheesesteak. The salads included a chef, taco, grilled chicken and something called a “Pittsburgh,” which was grilled steak or ham and french fries.
The largest section of the menu was devoted to appetizers. Wings, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, nachos, potato skins, and fried pickles were among some of the offerings — just what you want to nosh on with a couple of cold ones.
As is common in this area, Break Away also serves crabs as well as a number of dishes with crab in them like crab cakes and crab soup. Appetizers included crab con queso, crab chips and crab pretzel.
There were other seafood entrees like steamed clams, shrimp or mussels and oysters on the half shell. We are so lucky to live in an area where fresh seafood is as ordinary as a hamburger. I always chuckle when I go to far away places and see “Maryland crab cakes” on the menu. They rarely even come close to what your local bar in Washington County can offer.
Break Away has an interesting page on its website in which it explains a lot about crabs and how they pick and choose what to offer. It’s worth reading.
There were a couple of specials the night we were in Break Away and Pap decided to get one of them. It was a Blue Buffalo grilled cheese. I ordered pulled-pork sliders.
Our sandwiches came with either chips or fries. Pap got chips and I ordered curly fries. After a short wait, our food came out. Pap’s sandwich was made on Texas toast: fat white bread that had been grilled. Inside were moist pieces of chicken smothered in Buffalo sauce and melted cheese. It was gooey and yummy.
I got three pulled pork sliders. The pork was quite tender and not a bit stringy and there was a lot of it. I thought it was a tad bland, but remedied that by spooning on the barbecue sauce that came with it. It was tangy and tomatoey. As befitted the tiny sandwiches, there was a tiny cup of coleslaw. It was finely chopped and sweet and fit nicely on top of my pork.
The curly fries were seasoned well, crisp and tasty. But I was sorry I had not gotten the chips. Pap shared his with me and they were the highlight of the meal. Warm and cut thin, they were seasoned with salt and pepper and truly delightful.
Break Away was a fun experience. The waitresses were friendly and attentive. We felt at ease there, even though it was our first time. On our way out we stopped in the liquor store to see what it had to offer. How convenient!
Check out Break Away II. Whether you’re looking for food, spirits or liquor — they have it covered.
Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.