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MYSTERY DINER: Spratt's serves up classics with homemade touch

If you're looking for good food in a relaxed atmosphere, look no further than Spratt's Tap in Hennepin.

I opted for outdoor dining on this outing to take advantage of the weather. Spratt's has an assortment of tables with and without shade tents, so you can catch some sun or keep cool depending on your mood.

The menu features some favorite local bar classics: an assortment of fried appetizers, burgers, pork tenderloins, fried chicken, wraps and other dishes, along with an ever-changing selection of specials at super reasonable prices. Sandwiches come with complimentary seasoned fries, and you can upgrade to onion rings or cheese curds for just $2 (trust me, you're going to want at least one of your party to do this, preferably one who shares).

I brought two people with me for a weekday lunch, so I'd have enough diners to check out a couple menu options.

We started with the tavern mix appetizer for $9.50, which I highly recommend. It's the perfect size, and has enough options for several people to all get some of what they like. It includes waffle fries, a couple mozzarella sticks, a couple jalapeño poppers, a handful of fried mushrooms and onion rings, cheese curds and regular seasoned fries.

Appetizers come with a choice of sauces: garlic Parmesan, bourbon, buffalo, ranch, chili Thai, bang bang, and blue cheese – we opted for ranch (homemade, with excellent flavor and texture). If, like me, you're a fan of food as a vehicle to get sauces into your mouth, you're going to like these.

We also opted for a giant soft pretzel with cheese sauce, for $12.95. There's no way we needed that much food, but if you have the opportunity to order a pretzel large enough to be served in a pizza box, you should go for it.

I was too stuffed to taste this until afterwards, and considering I'm not particularly a soft pretzel fan, I was pleasantly surprised. The pretzel comes salted, with an extra packet of salt for you fiends, and two generously sized cups of seasoned cheese sauce. It's crispy and soft in all the right ways and I highly recommend.

For our meals, I chose the patty melt (extra Swiss for the win) with fries, and my friends got the pork tenderloin with fries and chicken strips with cheese curds.

The patty melt, a huge grilled burger with chunks of grilled onions and melty Swiss on marble rye, was cooked to perfection, the seasoned onions elevating the flavor of the sandwich.

The tenderloin, unlike your typical Illinois Valley thin-pounded plate-sized sandwich, was a fist-sized slab of pork. It was a good 3/4-inch thick, super juicy and lightly fried in a batter that complemented the pork without overwhelming it. My friend got it with the works, which included lettuce, tomato, pickle and grilled onions.

The chicken strips order was a generously sized four-piece portion, again perfectly battered and fried. For just $2 extra, the huge pile of cheese curds that was substituted for fries was totally worth it.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media Illinois. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.

IF YOU GO

Spratt's Tap

WHERE: 108 N. Front St., Hennepin

PHONE: 815-925-9100

INFO: www.facebook.com/sprattstap

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