Disclaimer: I stopped going to sports bars a while ago. There were many years during my 20s and 30s in which a Sunday was not complete without a visit to The Dugout (RIP), Fox and Hound (RIP again), Republic, Buffalo Wild Wings or The Varsity (RIP again again) to drink beers and eat nachos and try to talk to my friends while surrounded by people screaming at televisions.
Since that time, I had kids and my friends had kids and I hastened the demise of our fantasy football league by telling everyone I couldn’t watch athletes actively destroy their brains for my benefit anymore. So, you know, that kind of killed going to sports bars.
Which is to say, I walked into Chalk, the recently opened Chisholm Creek luxury sports bar, with not a lot of recent experience regarding its ilk.
What immediately struck me, however, was that it didn’t seem much like a sports bar at all. I mean, aside from the massive TV screens on the walls. They made a pretty big deal of it when they announced the restaurant, so I figure you deserve to see what all the fuss is about:
- Eighty-four 55-inch screens
- Six 98-inch screens
- Two 86-inch stretch screens
- Three 14-foot by 8-foot video walls
- One 12-foot by 6.75-foot video wall
- Three 10-foot by 5.6-foot video walls
That’s a lot of TV screens, yes, but it didn’t feel like one of those giant video screen walls where you might get A Clockwork Orange-d. It felt like a very nice, very modern dining room. Want to watch a game? Look up slightly. Want to talk to your friend? (In this case it was Krystal Yoseph, who I did want to talk to.) Don’t look up so much.
Besides, I was much more interested in what was on the plate than on the screens. I’m not a basketball critic, after all. I’m just a man dedicated to making a succession of sturdier and sturdier belts cry uncle.
We didn’t have access to the whole menu, but the soft opening menu was large enough that we had trouble choosing.
The Fried Deviled Eggs were delicious. They’d hard-boiled the eggs, scooped out the yolks and then batter-dipped and fried the egg white and topped it with the harissa-seasoned yolk mixture and bacon and chives. They were lovely and the batter added a lot of flavor. It was basically a chicken-fried hard-boiled egg and I love absolutely everything about it.
The “Chalkers” are Chalk’s versions of sliders. They’re a touch bigger than what you might imagine, but that’s by design. Sports bars survive on the longevity of their clientele. Feed someone too much and they stop drinking and eating and just sit there for several hours watching the games and digesting. But the right portion will whet the appetite and keep people nibbling and chugging hour after hour.
We tried the Crabby Patty Chalker and quite enjoyed it. It’s a fried crab cake patty on a Hawaiian bun with tomatoes, sprouts, red onion and remoulade sauce. Times like this, I’m grateful for people putting limits on soft openings, because I could have downed a dozen of those Crabby Patties and rolled me and my broken belt out of there at the end of the night.
For an entree, we got to try both the grilled salmon with creamy dill sauce (served with spinach, kale and wild rice pilaf) and the tri-tip steak with chimichurri sauce.
The tri-tip needed work, but I think it’s a finishing issue rather than a cooking issue. Tri-tip is one of my all-time favorite cuts of beef. When my friends and I take a long weekend getaway each year, the grilled tri-tip roast my friend Nate makes is the highlight (distant second is seeing my friends, who are all okay people, I guess).
Tri-tip is an incredibly beefy cut and plenty tender, if cooked and cut correctly. The issue with the tri-tip we had was that it was sliced with the grain instead of against. Simple mistake and one easily forgiven for an early outing. I’m looking forward to trying it again next time I’m in.
The salmon needs no work. Krystal and I divvied it up, but after a bite of well-seasoned greens and tender salmon, we were both eyeing each other’s portion. The dill cream sauce is a killer and I’d bet a few other menu items could use it as well. I’d particularly like to dip some french fries in it, like some kind of Belgian genius.
We didn’t need dessert, but that rarely stops us. The bread pudding was gooey and hot and crisp around the edges. Most importantly, it didn’t have any raisins in it, which is one of the most important things a bread pudding can do. Seriously, if we weren’t stuffed to the gills, we’d have housed this like it was a foreign exchange student.
Chalk is open now, but the official grand opening is during the Super Bowl (Feb. 2) in case you only like things when they’re grand.