You know how some places just look like they have a sticky floor, even if the floor is perfectly clean? Well, that's Huckas.
The cavernous Canton restaurant and bar has a pocked, black cement floor that looks like it belongs in a fraternity-house basement. The shapeless interior, lined with a few booths and dotted with tall round tables, is large enough to hold 1,000 people, according to vice president of operations Vernon May. Huckas has four bar areas, plus about a million televisions, all turned to sports. Upstairs, there are pool tables and even more televisions.
I visited the same location three years ago, when it was inhabited by a restaurant called The Grille. The floor was sticky-looking then, too, and the food left a great deal to be desired.
The food is better this time around. I especially liked unusual items like a spinach patty appetizer made with feta cheese, garlic, olives and artichoke hearts ($5.75) and an entree of Persian-style chicken breast ($13).
The spinach patties, remarkably tasty, would have been even better without squares of mozzarella melted on top, but those were easy enough to remove. The chicken entree combined tender chunks of meat with green peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes in a rich turmeric-infused sauce. Served with rice, it was a satisfying dish.
I was also impressed with the oven-roasted sea bass ($22.50), a fresh-tasting slab of seafood topped with a crab and corn bread stuffing. My only complaint was that the fish was slightly overcooked.
This entree, like others, included a salad, vegetable and baked potato or fries. Not that this was much of a selling point. The vegetables were fairly bland (but to their credit not overcooked), and the salad was an entirely forgettable bowl of wilted and cold greens.
For a place that's just as much bar as restaurant, Huckas has a decent-sized menu. There are plenty of munchies here, including steamed shrimp ($7.25 for a half-pound), chicken wings ($7.25) and fried calamari, ($8.25), as well as sandwiches, pizzas, salads and more serious entrees.
Prime rib ($19.50), porterhouse ($22.50) and New York strip ($18.50) are all available. A friend had the strip and found it acceptable, though I thought it was too chewy to be great. Huckas even serves omelets, and my husband said his four-egg cheddar and ham ($6.25) concoction, served with hash browns and toast, hit the spot.
Yet the appetizers were mostly awful. Potato skins were chewy and dripped with grease, jalapeno poppers were likewise greasy, and nachos with salsa and guacamole lacked both crunch and flavor.
And the desserts were worse. Before eating the Huckas version ($4.25), I thought there was no such thing as a bad brownie sundae. I was wrong. The brownie was dry and tasted like wax, and the vanilla ice cream had been thawed and then refrozen, so its texture was as waxy as the brownie's. A squirt of canned whipped cream along the side didn't help matters. A dessert described on the menu as "apple oatmeal cake with whiskey sauce" ($3.75) was really a giant slab of apple pie with a heavy crust. I've found better pies in my supermarket's frozen dessert section.
One selling point of Huckas appears to be the eponymous water pipes, tall, green contraptions which are brought to your table filled with tobaccos ($12) in flavors including banana, coconut and strawberry.
According to May, the mix is 90 percent fruit and 10 percent tobacco, and any nicotine is filtered out in the water before it reaches your lungs. I'm not quite sure of the appeal of these pipes - I guess it's fun to pass them from friend to friend.
Our server seemed completely baffled most of the night. Throughout our meal, she couldn't quite figure out where to stand to put down our plates, or when to remove dirty ones. Also, she couldn't list which beers were on tap - a major no-no for a place like Huckas.
Still, if you skip dessert and choose your appetizers carefully, a decent meal isn't hard to find at Huckas. But food isn't really the focus here. Huckas is a place for drinking, watching sports, playing pool and smoking water pipes. Any food that's better than bad is a bonus.
2324 Boston St., Canton
Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., kitchen closes at 11 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., kitchen closes at midnight
Appetizers $3-$8.25, entrees $5.25-$22.50
** 1/2 (2 1/2 STARS)
* 1/2 (1 1/2 STARS)
* 1/2 (1 1/2 STARS)
[Outstanding:**** Good:*** Fair or uneven:** Poor:*