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Five and Dime Ale House, one of Hampden's newest restaurants, gives a nod with its name to the building's past life as a variety store. But that's about the only connection. Inside, It's been transformed into a neighborhood tavern with good food and a fun vibe.

The pub benefits from being owned by veteran restaurateurs of the 206 Restaurant Group. Greg Keating, a managing partner, and principal owners Donald Kelly and Justin Dvorkin also run Pratt Street Ale House and other area eateries.

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Oliver Brewing Co. is another one of their holdings, and you'll find its beers well represented on Five and Dime's drinks list.

Chef Matthew Kane, who formerly worked at B&O American Brasserie and with the Clyde's Restaurant Group, is putting his touches on the casual fare with munchies like soft pretzels and a variety of wings, pizzas, sandwiches and burgers. But he also showcases several solid entrees like steak frites and crab cakes with an eye on seasonal produce.

The two-level restaurant — which most recently was an antiques mall — has seating for 320. Each floor has several TVs.

"We wanted it to be a good place to watch a game," Keating said. "We wanted it to be a place where you can bring the family."

The bar and dining area are alluring with black banquettes, decorative stenciled lettering, brick walls and a retro vibe.

Our experience at Five and Dime Ale House would have been more positive if the service hadn't given us pause. We still can't figure out why the "boxing incident" — as we're calling it — took place.

My husband and I had leftover appetizers we wanted to take home. Our server brought boxes and proceeded to scrape my husband's remaining food in one of them while handing me a box to do my own packaging.

We thought maybe she was too busy to do mine. But then the same thing happened with our main dishes — she filled my husband's container, gave me an empty one and walked away.

The unequal treatment was puzzling. That quirk aside, we'd go back.

Keating and his partners are striving to give Five and Dime Ale House its own identity, which means tailoring the space to its Hampden surroundings.

"We want the feel of a neighborhood spot that's always been there," Keating said. "We didn't want to do a cut-and-paste place."

Scene & Decor The former G.C. Murphy variety store has been transformed into a sports bar with a midcentury feel, featuring old photos and a large bar area on the first floor and an upstairs area that can be used for private events. We were seated in one of the large booths that line a wall on the first level. The area is separated from the bar by a divider. But we could still see all the action and the TVs that are placed around the room.

Appetizers Our starters were great nibbles. The Thai shrimp ($13) featured a pyramid of breaded shrimp coated with sweet chili sauce and green onions. The morsels were set on a bed of shredded lettuce that added a cooling crispness to the dish. The mac and cheese ($8) showed attention from the kitchen, with a mound of tender cavatappi pasta glistening with a mild bechamel cheese sauce. Do spend a few extra bucks for a topping or two, like bacon, buffalo chicken and lobster. We dressed up ours with roasted mushrooms ($2) to good effect.

Entrees The fig and prosciutto sandwich ($14) stars some of our favorite ingredients, including mozzarella and arugula. It lived up to expectations, except for the too-fatty ham. We were pleased with the fine-tasting miso-glazed salmon ($22), which was served with a sweet-corn puree, potato hash and corn relish.

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Drinks Many Oliver Brewing Co. beers are offered, along with other drafts, cocktails and wines — bottles of which are half-price on Tuesdays.

Service Our waitress was likable and upfront about what she knew or didn't know about the menu. We just don't understand her method of boxing leftovers.

Dessert You don't see a dessert like the Oreo bliss ($8) on a menu every day, so we decided to try it. The Rice Krispies-battered and deep-fried Oreo cookies were just as indulgent and delicious as they sound. Vanilla ice cream was a proper partner.

Five and Dime Ale House

Backstory: The large corner space was a G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store before it was an antiques mall. The 206 Restaurant Group was looking for an opportunity in the Hampden area when it discovered the building "empty and available," said Greg Keating, the group's managing partner. The result is Five and Dime Ale House, which opened in October.

Signature dish: Thai shrimp

TVs: Nine TVs on the first floor, eight on the upper level

Where: 901 W. 36th St., Hampden

Contact: 443-835-2179, fiveanddimealehouse.com

Open: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday.

Credit cards: All major

Reservations: Accepts reservations

Bottom line: The family-friendly spot offers a good dining alternative in Hampden.

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