I love a good sports bar.
I spent several years of my life spending two football (soccer) matches a week at the late Nevada’s Smith’s, aptly subtitled “Where football is Religion!” I went on a bit about this in my blog Drunk Food (https://gratuitousgrub.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/drunk-food/) an ode to those of us die-harders who think a good sports bar should warm the hearts of all sports fans who think it’s quite natural to drink Magners at 8am.
Even when I am not interested in the sport, I tend to really enjoy the sort of comfort food that comes out of sports bars, things like chicken wings, fries, jalapeno poppers, meat pies, pizzas and so on. My one stipulation is that nothing is bought in frozen. There is a proper chef, or at least a damn good cook, actually putting together simple fare that tastes great with beer, cider, cocktails and VICTORY….or consoles your loss. The great sports bar has lots of TVs, doesn’t smell like an asshole, has patient, friendly wait and/or bar staff, serves up great drink specials at a super pocket-friendly price (after all you are gonna be there for at LEAST 90 min. if you are a footie fan or who-knows-how-long if you favor baseball) and it’s gotta pad your stomach with good food whilst you drink and scream and cry and laugh. Or sulk.
So I have been absent a good sports bar, in my tenure so far, her on the island. I have found a few izakayas (Japanese bars with food. Lovely!) to watch cup finals but the time difference has pretty much robbed me of my hooliganism. I had, however, heard of this place called Sidelines, which by every account either sucked, was fabulous, or they really couldn’t remember…perhaps because they suffered some brain damage from being stupid, 20 years old and…well, let’s just leave it at that. I had no idea where this place was, and honestly no interest in an American Sports Bar on Okinawa. I probably should have, for many reasons, but some of the people who raved about it….let’s just say, their tastes weren’t the greatest I have encountered on my world journey.
It actually happened by accident, this whole review. Jason and I were set to explore a sushi bar that is supposedly PHENOMENAL. Once we got inside the place we realized that it was, in fact, probably pretty damn amazing as we couldn’t get a seat to save our lives. Well, we could have, but Japanese jails are not known for their fine dining, so we walked along the seawall, on our way to Hearth (https://gratuitousgrub.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/hearth-a-cafe-for-the-cool-cats/) when my husband turns to me and jokingly says, “Well there’s that Sideline’s place. You wanna review that?” And with a big, old, “What-the-hell!” from me, we sidled inside the dark, neon, empty bowels of Sidelines Sports Bar & Grille. (You gotta love the pretentious “e” at the end of grill!)
We were met with the Okinawan version of a Hooter’s girl. Her uniform was neat and tight and I got the opportunity, within a glance, to give her a pelvic exam and mammogram. I thought…Sure, cool. I enjoy Hooters’ concept. This totally works. She was ridiculously friendly, either out of management’s orders, boredom or from slipping too many shots from behind the bar. What? OK maybe she was just a REALLY nice girl. Sure. Stilettos make me jump for joy too! Especially while serving all night. She showed us to our seats and plunked herself down at one of the chairs like she was just gonna hang with us, pushed her tits onto the table and began to chat so inanely I can’t even remember what the hell she was on about. Now I understand this technique. It works really well for single men, makes them tip well, they feel like she is interested in them. She flirts, their egos burst, she gets tips. I KNOW. I DID this as a bartender in London. All my girlfriends who have worked as waitstaff know this trick. This trick is old. But when a married couple come in, people on dates, or what about a family, or an elderly woman, or any other number of conglomeration you can conceive of who just wants to chill, it is time to change the tactic.
I ordered a vodka and soda. Simple, sophisticated, easy, AND an especially good way to discern the aptitude of the bartender when trying out a new bar. I encourage everyone to find their own simple cocktail that they love. Learn to make it perfectly. Ask your local bartender to teach you. You can size up a place by the way they serve your favorite. Mine came in a pint glass. No, I’m not fucking with you. And oh guess what!? You couldn’t taste the alcohol or the lime (that was served instead of the lemon i ordered) to save your life. I suddenly got the entire theme behind this place. They were out to trick people into thinking they were getting something great, but were, in fact, cutting corners and pulling magic tricks on stupid people to make the most profit. They were letting the quality suffer in place of tricking people into thinking they were getting more quantity bang for their buck. Placebo Dining.
My point was proven when our first course, a recommendation from the vapid, vaginally exhibitionistic waitress, arrived. To just drive home the hilarity of that last sentence it was the “Meat Lovers” Pizza. Yeah. I’m still kinda pissing myself. The pizza itself, when it came, was absolutely the epitome of frozen crap. It was limp, undercooked, soggy, tasteless and so bad that we could only stomach to pick a bit of the cheese and sausage from the top. It was like they took a toothbrush of tomato paste and called it sauce. We had the rest boxed up and later fed it to the seawall cats, which wasn’t honestly a true charity, we just didn’t want to insult the poor, bimbo waitress and thought we’d help the homeless kitties….use it to glue together a cat house for themselves….or kill rats.
Sooooo it was about this time that a gaggle of Japanese women in 8 inch platform stilettos, fake eyelashes, water-bras, with eardrum piercing giggles came in to provide us with some more gynecological exams. They looked a bit disappointed to find just a couple, sitting having dinner, but coochied over to the pool table, which was, evidently the most HILARIOUS thing they had ever seen and proceeded to SHRIEK in delight as they seemed to discover that round balls rolled. All the while they glanced at the door, waiting, in lurk for the first single American man (because honestly not many Japanese men would be caught dead in this place) to pop up and give them a chance to go fishing. Once or twice a sleazy looking guy in a leather coat came in and out. They flocked to him. As for young marines, I feel bad for the guys stuck in barracks cause these gals didn’t get the memo that there was a curfew. No boys to play with that night! Too bad, poor dears. Better luck next weekend. If it wasn’t so sad it would have been hilarious. Ok fine I laughed. It was a fascinating sociological exhibition!
Our next course of their “famous” chicken wings came with little finesse. Or rapidity.
We ordered “hot honey mustard,” as I was told it was the best, via our little waitress from the bartender. It was…nothing special.
The sauce was overly acidic and salty and the wings seemed to have been hanging out in the back awhile before very slooooowwwwlyyyy being doused in said sauce. Jason, who was ravenous, threw them down like medicine, whilst I ordered another “vodka soda.” Last but not least was the plate of pork sliders. This was the highest point of the night…well that and going to the bathroom only to have a picture of David Beckham watch me pee. The sliders were alright. I would say that, aside from being dry, they were up to par with one of those chain sports pubs that has a strict, yet moderate standard of quality. They were passably agreeable, as was our perky little serving wench until we read the final bill.
I couldn’t believe it.
They fucking charged me $24 for two vodka and sodas! What is this? A restaurant or a shitty brothel?
I haven’t been that gobsmacked by a cocktail bill since the first time I went to the Hudson Hotel in NYC and was presented with $10 for a glass of wine! (Give me a little credit, I was only 21 yrs old!) Who the flying fuck gives a sports bar in Okinawa the RIGHT to serve you watered down $12 dollar cocktails? You do. You do by making the choice to actually be a patron of this place. What gives them the right to serve frozen, bought in food? The people who keep eating there. The idiots who plan their parties, watch their TVs, drink their watered down beer, hit on their ‘buy me drink” girls. It is the consumer’s fault when a business as pathetic as Sidelines is allowed to stay open and make money. If this gets you off, if you don’t care about anything that goes into your mouth as long as you get wasted and get a shag (which is totally kickass, in my opinion. I’ve been there), then please, by all means, keep hanging out at Sidelines, but I expect more out of my brothels…errr sports bars…like at least being fulfilled for my money. And I would, someday, like to feel the camaraderie. The roar of the hooligans. Either way, in this case, I must say, I would rather play in the game than sit in the Sidelines.
Oh and as a gal, I have better sense then to frequent a place whose lady’s room main door looks like this: In my next installment: A guest blog by Chef Ryan Klindtworth, including sexy, date-impressing Valentine’s Day recipes!!!