Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dave & Buster's

325 North Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-1951

Although it is out of my general purview of locations to serve the general purpose of this website, I am never one to turn down a free experience. Especially when there are video games, sports, beer, and bar food involved. When I was recently asked to check out the interior upgrades and new menu additions at Dave and Buster’s, I was pretty damn excited.

I had actually been there somewhat recently, but was unaware of the dramatic transformation that had recently been undertaken.

I can honestly say, if there were a sporting event worth watching in this town in the near future, I would consider this as a viable possibility. The size and amount of new TV’s is almost a joke. Certain to elicit involuntary orgasmic outcrys from dyed-in-the-wool sports fans.

Seriously, there is an awesome set of TVs about everywhere you look.

We decided to forgo the traditional dining room for a seat at the bar, with college basketball and ice hockey (damn you NHL) as far as the eye could see. As this was a Friday night, the new appetizer sampler seemed to be calling my name, especially when I'd be coupling it with a pint of Dog Fish Head 60 Minute (or 5). This platter is the size of a small desk and is flush with wings, fried shrimp, pigs in a blanket, a chicken quesadilla, and homemade potato chips. If that doesn’t equate to bar food, then a drop of fermented beverage will never again touch these lips. Our bartender, Russel, was on point and left us wanting for nothing. Even multiple requests (as are usual accompaniments to my eating habits) like a side of the sauce from this other appetizer or yet another beer, were met with a disarming smile and at times, a fantastic recommendation.

Enter The 5:15. "The 5:15 was made for you and your crew, out of the office at last and looking for a good time. You'll get 5 Buffalo Wings with your choice of Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing; 5 Chicken Quesadilla Wedges with salsa; 5 Pretzel Dogs; and 5 Crispy Fried Shrimp with spicy habanero sauce; complete with a stack of fresh BBQ potato chips. Because work sucks. And freedom tastes good."

That said, I have to start with the bad. The pigs in a blanket were unpalatably salty. And I LOVE salt. There was a seasoning sprinkled on the blankets (atop an already sodium-rich snack) that, in turn, elevated it to salt-lick status. I also would have humbly suggested serving them with some sort of mustard dip. It would add some acidity to cut the salty, fatty flavor that makes these such a classic party food. The wings were solid, nothing spectacular, but definitely something I would order again. Especially if I were watching some type of athletic event on the aforementioned television encirclement.

The quesadilla was again, fine, all of the things one would expect. Crispy tortilla, melted cheese, tender chicken, spices.

The shrimp were delicious, but growing up with a background that forbade letting a single piece of seafood go uneaten, I could eat any kind of fried ocean goer and be content.

Perhaps the most interesting twist of the evening came in the form of the potato balls that were recommended by Russ, the bartender. The tiny fryer basket they were served in was lucky to not leave with me. Someone may have called it "cute." The potato balls were crispy, not overly salty, and creamy inside. I would have appreciated the inclusion of a dipping sauce or two, but these were like an adult(ish) version of tots, and with fresh parsley they tasted fine alone. But I will also say that the 5:15 had an abundance of dipping potential, so there was some mix-and-match happening. Highly recommended.

I also had the good fortune to receive a few gaming cards pre-loaded with enough credits to play a significant amount of video games. I had Rounders style luck on one of them, but I won’t say which.

We headed back along the winding walkway – this place is humungous – and entered the ultimate fun center.

There is another bar back here, so fear not, your drinks can continue to flow.

The games go for days.

And so do the tickets... if you're good.

I definitely had a great time at Dave & Busters, (my beer tab certainly must have reflected that), and it had more to offer than I was expecting. The food was passable, but the environment for hanging out and watching the game was quite impressive. One of the issues with watching sports in Philly is that the places with nice TV’s are filled with people who suck, and the places you want to hang at and drink for cheap have shitty TV’s. Dave and Buster’s has enough space to not be crammed in with a few thousand frat boys, and the TV’s are nice enough to make curling interesting. Not to mention, as we were informed by the bartender, they routinely have local professional athletes show up of their own accord, so who knows, you could be watching the Sixers with Jason Peters.

No comments: