When we walk into Atlantic Beer Garden, for a moment it seems like we've wandered into a sports fan's fantasy: The scene inside looks like a Super Bowl party in the TV department at
So many flatscreens plaster the walls at this new harbor side sports bar that we half expect our waiter not to ask which beer we'd like but rather what size TV we plan to buy. Meanwhile, the young crowd around us is cheering on the Patriots and munching on game grub like nachos, wings, and Philly cheese steak spring rolls served with beer ketchup (and no one is pinkies up while dunking).
In other words, sports fans - and those who aim to tempt fate by eating the likes of the Pacific burger stacked with cheese, a fried egg, bacon, and onion strings ($9.99) - your bar is here. Then again, minus the waterfront outdoor seating and planned roof deck, it's also in Brighton. Atlantic Beer Garden, which opened up next to the World Trade Center in October, is a clone of the 9-month-old Brighton Beer Garden owned by Cronin Development Corp. - which also lays claim to downtown's Sanctuary and Southie's Boston Beer Garden and Playwright.
Both locations sport the same sleek dark wood and leather decor, both are subdued by caramel-tone walls, and both cram in flatscreens like they were posters slapped on the walls of a dorm room. The 63 beer choices and nouveau pub grub menus are also nearly identical.
We try respectable basics like juicy burgers ($8.99 to $9.99) and tasty cooked-to-order steak tips ($13.99). The kitchen also seems comfortable with sandwiches like the pressed chicken and pear panini ($8.99) and traditional pub food like the intensely cheesy spinach and artichoke dip ($8.99) or juicy fried mushrooms ($8.99).
But the trendier choices are less reliable. Dishes like lettuce wraps with Thai sauce ($8.99) or grilled salmon with mango salsa ($14.99) sound interesting, but are overly sweet and bland. Other more upscale entrees, like chicken a la Milanese ($14.99) in a sundried-tomato cream sauce that has separated, simply fumbles. An appetizer of mojito grilled shrimp ($8.99) lives up to its promise with a pleasing char and a summery hint of mint and rum.
We hope the cooks find steadier feet, but for now, the water and game views are enough of a draw. Because when you can catch a touchdown on, oh, 24 HD TVs and two giant projection screens, even an over-the-top fried Snickers bar a la mode ($5.50) tastes good enough.