Once you've got a great novelty hook, it's tempting to scrap the quality -- Chuck E. Cheese's animatronic band made pizza an afterthought, and the Barenaked Ladies' name was so enticing, their members didn't even try to look sexy. Backing a great hook with great everything else, Ladder 15
Ladder is actually in a cavernous old-time firehouse, but instead of firemen's hats and Hoseburgers, the owners have outdone themselves, with the homey-industrial setting (mesh cage rock-walled wraparound mezzanine, cold-rolled steel paneling, wide-plank dark cypress floors, lantern chandeliers, mahogany walls, and a birch log-encased fireplace), a menu designed by the Bon Appetit-feted Little Fish chef, and cocktails that expertly summon up your fatboy youth. The shockingly cheap menu ($5-$14) features sides like Brussels sprouts w/ duck fat vinaigrette and haystack shallots w/ smoked paprika mayo, larger dishes like seared tuna on Himalayan salt brick and root beer-glazed pork ribs, several flatbreads (black truffle; braised short rib; littleneck clams w/ potato & bacon), and randomness like Buffalo chicken confit "lollipops" (so...Drum-Drums?). Drinkwise, the 12 taps pump locals (Victory, Sly Fox) and not-locals (Leffe, Hook & Ladder), but the sugar-fiend cocktails hog the spotlight, from the graham cracker crust-rimmed Key Lime Pie, to the Three Olives Vodka Root Beer Float with barrel candy side, to the Cherry Water Ice mix of cherry vodka, lemonade and cherry Pop Rocks -- if Mikey's not already dead, the vodka'll finish him off
Ladder gifts departing diners with flavored cotton candy (cinnamon, strawberry, pineapple...), gourmet versions of the stuff that tens of people will enjoy next year while watching those blessedly clothed "Ladies" on Dorney Park's SummerStage.