Jan 2, 2010

New Tavern on Main: Jack Gage

In my previous post on Spin!, I mentioned that the East and West sides of Main street between 49th and 51st have become much improved of late, with several new bar and restaurants opening.

I popped into Jack Gage American Tavern at 5031 Main in the old Double Dragon location Wednesday night with my wife and her sister, Abby, to see what it was like inside and determine if we would want to go back to eat sometime.

Walking in, Jack Gage feels more like a restaurant than a bar. To the left are lots of tables and sturdy wood chairs. There are a couple TV's but not so many that it feels like a real sports bar. Lots of dark wood and dark colors... rich and inviting, but still felt pretty new. Carpeting is pretty dorky - kinda corporate feeling. Our seat by the front windows, next to the door were loud and a little cold, but when the weather is less frigid outside, I suspect it would have been quite comfortable.

The crown jewel of the tavern, though, and reason for its name, is the painted wood cutout that encases the bar. According to our server, it was purchased by the bar's owners from an auction, and was once the sign used when Jack Gage traveled town to town in England back in the early 1900's, promoting  boxing events. It's a neat touch that helps bring out the theme of the bar.

Framed photos of historic moments in boxing cover the rest of the walls in the restaurant and are a nice, classy touch, but I still felt like there was more that should have been done to carry through the theme of the restaurant. The cutout on the bar is so cool the rest of the dining room seems unfinished.

Surprisingly, there is a nice bar upstairs, as well, with more cozy seating. It wasn't being used that night but when I stumbled upon it on my way to the restaurant, I gasped... it looked like the perfect area for a little private party. Very cozy and private, but accommodating, too. I'm racking my brain for reasons to suggest using it for an upcoming event.

Unfortunately, the drink prices were a little high. At happy hour, we were still paying $3.50 for Boulevard drafts - not bad but you can do better on Blvd in this town - and import beers are $5.00 or more. It reminded me of another pub in town, O'Dowd's, which strikes me as equally overpriced. The beer and wine list were extensive, though, including the Boulevard Smokestack Series. I was impressed, but due to prices, I can't see this place turning into my favorite neighborhood bar (I'd rather be across the street at the Peanut, in fact).

Didn't eat anything but the menu looked pretty disappointing. Fried and fatty were the themes, true to most pub food but not special enough to get me to bite. The owner also owns Baja 600 on the Plaza, which stunts my optimism that there is much promise for improvement at Jack Gage (I've never had a great meal at Baja).

In the end, I don't see myself returning anytime soon unless I hear that the prices come down or the menu changes. The restaurant's ambiance wasn't special enough to overcome the sting to the wallet and there are better alternatives in the area. The food looked equally pricey and like a collective yawn. Let's see how long it lasts...

Rating: No Rating
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