ABSECON- If your idea of a pub is simply a bar that also serves some food, you might want to browse through the menu at Skelly's Hi Point Pub, but make sure you have a few extra minutes.

The menu is longer than the average restaurant menu and includes soup and salad, sandwiches, pizza and full-course dinners.

A sliced Italian loaf served with butter arrived first. Next, we began our meal with some hot cups of soup. A creamy potato soup was included in the price of our dinner and had great potato taste. Creamy and thick, the only thing we didn't quite like was some of the vegetables, onions in particular, were slightly crunchy and undercooked. We found the same problem with the crab bisque which came with the meal for a $2 supplement. We couldn't fault the fact that the soup was absolutely loaded with crab meat, and full of all the other things we like about soup - rich, creamy and perfectly seasoned.

Appetizers began with an order of coconut shrimp ($9.95). The shrimp were crispy and well cooked and stood on their own, just as well, since neither of us thought the raspberry sauce served alongside added anything to the dish.

Fried mushrooms ($5) seemed like a more typical pub food choice. My dining companion insisted the fried mushrooms were just OK, but somehow the basket that had been filled to overflowing had emptied out while we chatted. Those fresh button mushrooms had a good, crisp coating and were perfectly deep fried - just right to eat with a cold draught or two. The cocktail sauce served with it was good, but again added little to the already tasty dish.

After such a good start on soups and appetizers, we felt the entrees fell short. We were glad we chose the smallest slab of prime rib, a 12-ounce portion ($18.95) because it looked so large on the plate. Ordered medium, this thick slice of meat was overcooked and very dry, making it seem tougher than it was. Au jus couldn't rescue it. A baked potato came wrapped in foil, so, technically steamed rather than baked, but was still good fare, although our other choice of cole slaw had no strong personality of its own.

The baked stuffed flounder ($17.95) was composed of two flounder fillets stuffed with loads of crab meat and diced green peppers, bound together in a creamy sauce. Like the prime rib, the stuffed flounder seemed dried out, perhaps indicative of too long of a wait under the heat lamps. If there was a lemon butter sauce, there was not nearly enough. A gigantic portion of mashed potatoes arrived steaming hot along with a side of fresh green beans.

We have to mention how uncomfortable pub dining would have been just a few short years ago before the ban on smoking went into effect. Since the bar area, take-out section and main dining room share a common space, it would have been out of the question for us to frequent any of those. We love bar/restaurants and the classic bar foods they serve. And we have a certain nostalgia for the knotty pine wainscotting that surrounded us. The room was pleasant, the crowd was low key and our server was pleasant, quick and efficient until she tried to hand us someone else's bill and credit card. She recovered well.

We spotted a large black spider walking down one wall and shreds of spider webs lining another wall, not housekeeping problems but decorations for an impending scary holiday.

At Skelly's the beer was cold, the food selection was enviable, and every possible sporting event was showcased on a bevy of flat screen televisions.

Stick close to the traditional bar food choices, and no doubt, you too will have a very pleasant experience in this friendly neighborhood atmosphere.

Skelly's Hi-Point Pub

5 N. Shore Road

Absecon

Phone: 609-641-3172

Hours: Dinners daily from 5 to 10 p.m.

Rating:

Liquor license: Yes

Disabled access: Yes

Credit cards: Visa, MC, American Express

Price range: Appetizers $3 to $12.95, entrees $8.50 to $33.95

Our bill for two: $67 plus tip