My in–laws were in town for a couple of days over the holidays and we were looking for something to do to get out of the house for a bit with the kids and maybe try something new. I was kind of randomly scanning through new places that had opened and saw Punch Bowl Social. Seemed like a good idea…. I have to say though I wasn’t sure if kids were even allowed or if this is just an adult place, but as it turns out, kids are welcome until 10:00 p.m. They also take reservations, which it didn’t look like we needed for lunch on this particular day, but I am imagining this is more of a late night place.
They serve food obviously, but also have a plethora of various games offered from old arcade games, to bowling, to cornhole, to foosball, to ping pong and darts. Lots of stuff going on here. So yeah, a fun choice with kids actually. We sat down and looked over the menu—I would describe it as pubby food with a southern flair. It’s a concept from celebrity chef Hugh Acheson.
They serve all kinds of cocktails (punch particularly) but it was lunch so we just went with some beer and wine. Weirdest thing though? They card everyone who orders alcohol. I mean EVERYONE. My father-in-law just turned 80. EIGHTY. They wouldn’t serve him a beer because he didn’t have his i.d. on him. That seems crazy to me. Anyhow, make sure you bring your i.d. if you want a drink, and I don’t care how old you are. Also, Punch Bowl Social, if you’re reading this, that’s kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, we got our drinks (the kids enjoyed milkshakes, my FIL had a diet coke) and ordered some poutine to start ($10). On the menu here, it’s called “The Canadian.” It’s fries, brown gravy and white cheddar cheese curds. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, but my family was really digging it. Both hubby and my son wanted to order more of it. I liked the way the cheese curds were just getting melty as it sat a bit. You have to realize that the fries are not going to be crisp with gravy on them, but the flavor was good (although I thought they needed a little salt). A nice thing to share between the six of us (even though I’m sort of itching to try the pimento cheese and the chips with charred onion crème fraiche).
Hubby and I were torn about what to get, and based on the recommendation of our server, we decided to try the tacos from the starter men ($10 for 4) and the Alabama chicken sandwich ($10) and split them. I have to say, both were really well done. The tacos were small but packed full with cocoa dusted pork carnitas, salsa adobo, radish, thin sliced yellow onion and cilantro. There was supposed to be cheese and crema on there too, although I didn’t get a ton of that in the ones I ate. But the flavor of the tacos was very good. The pork was very, very tender and I loved the onions and the squeeze of lime, Honestly, I think these were better than the tacos I have had around the corner.
The chicken sandwich was a hunk of chicken breast meat that was deep-fried with white BBQ sauce, bread and butter pickles, tomato, and shredded lettuce. This was
also very tasty. The breading on the sandwich was nice and crispy, and there was a nice depth of flavor coming from the white BBQ sauce and the pickles (can we all agree pickles and fried chicken just go together?). The bun was not overwhelming and didn’t take over the flavor with breadiness. They serve it in an iron skillet (for looks I guess because it wasn’t hot at all) and with a side of fries. Their fries are good—very crisp, but next time I would ask for a side of something more interesting than ketchup to dip them in.
My daughter wanted breakfast and was pleased to see that you can order it here until 3:00 and so she did. She was happy enough and thought the breakfast potatoes they serve were good-they were little rounds of crispy fried potatoes. The bacon was only so-so though, it didn’t have a lot of flavor. They seem to be trying to incorporate local ingredients, so someone should tell them about Goose the Market bacon. My son had a burger and said it was fine (he got it pretty plain, so I didn’t even try it—I love some sort of fancy burger sauce on my burgers, which their adult version includes.)
All in all, it seems like a fun place (as long as you have your id) with pretty solid pub food. I know hubby is anxious to go back….and I would like to go with a group to take advantage of some of the games and to try some of the other starters (you need a pretty big group to try much because the portions are pretty generous).
Tell me about your experiences here. What did you think?
Punch Bowl Social
120 South Meridian Street