Dining in Denver: Blake Street Tavern

Dining or drinking, I suppose.

As a Boston University grad and Terrier hockey fan living outside of the Northeast, I need to find places to watch the Beanpot with, as the University so eloquently puts it, “people who get it.” This is obviously because the Beanpot is solely a Boston thing, as a mid-season tournament for bragging rights among the four Boston-based schools (BU, Boston College, Northeastern and Harvard).

Thus, when Beanpot time comes around, various BU alumni chapters around the nation organize watch parties for alumni in the area. They find a bar that is willing to give us a TV with sound so us BU hockey nerds can go watch our team compete for the whole pot of beans.

This year, the watch party was supposed to be at the Pour House at 14th and Market, but alas, the Pour House was undergoing renovations over the first week of the Beanpot (tourney held over the first two Mondays in Feb.), so the party got moved to Blake Street Tavern.

Blake Street Tavern, located at 23rd and Blake, is right down the street from Coors Field. I’m not going to write about its popularity, as both times I went were during very slow periods (3pm and 5pm on a Monday). However, both times I did eat there and deal with their service, so I can attest to that.

First, the positives:
– FREE PARKING. There are meters across the street, but right outside the bar are at least a good dozen spots just off the street and behind the bar is a lot with, quoth the Web site, “100 parking spots after 5:30pm & weekends.”
– Expansive menu.
– Half-way decent food. Brandon had a burger on his one trip and I ate two different types of sandwiches.
– Tons of space. With the layout, even on a crowded Friday/Saturday night (or during/after a Rockies game), I can still envision mobility within the bar which is a plus, particularly for the wait staff/anyone carrying anything that might spill.
– Huge bathrooms. I hate teeny tiny cramped bar bathrooms. Or, to be fair, teeny tiny cramped bathrooms in general.

Now, for the not so good:
– While the food was half-way decent, I wouldn’t consider it good. That, and both times I went my food order got screwed up. Brandon ordered the Tavern Burger, adding cheese, which would make it essentially your standard ol’ cheeseburger. However, what he got had a special sauce and onion rings on it (and was cooked wrong). Our waitress assured us that was the Tavern Burger, but as you can plainly see on their menu, he got the Blake Street Burger. Fail for them not getting his order correctly and DOUBLE fail for saying that no, we misunderstood them. Yeah, okay.

The first time I went, I got the BLT, which was fine. My only complaint there was that it didn’t come with mayonnaise, which I thought was standard with a BLT. Easily remedied, though.

The second time I went, I got the Blake Street Club – “Grilled chicken breast with bacon, jack cheese, avocado, and mayo on a kaiser roll.” I ordered it with fries and asked for tomato to be added to the sandwich. What came out? The club … with no fries or tomato. Instead, it came with a salad on the side. I spoke to the waitress about the mistake – no tomato slices (still), but I did get my fries. I didn’t have to pay for the salad which was nice (and it was nice to eat), but really? That’s your second strike on screwing up orders. Also, the chicken in the club was severely lacking in moisture.

– Fairly lousy service. Yes, the servers did remedy their initial screw-ups in taking our orders, but they were generally forgetful and inattentive. My second visit, I sat with other young(er) alumni and one of the girls wanted a water. She needed to remind our server two or three times about it and only when she got a bit snippy about it did she finally get our water.

I also noticed that a few other people’s orders got screwed up – one of the servers attending our group brought out a soup/sandwich combo that she thought someone ordered, but apparently no one had.

– Not really taking care of our group. The first night, we had one of the private rooms for the watch party – TV with sound, tables for all of us, etc. The second night, there was some CU function going on for a men’s basketball game so we were relegated to a TV in a corner in their game area with only high bar tables. The game was on another TV or so, including in a better location near the door and TONS of tables (that is, tons of space for us crazies), but we couldn’t get sound there. Plus they almost switched our game off a few times, lost the sound and took a while getting it back.

I get that we were a late addition to their plans and that we were supposed to be at Pour House, but I would think they would take care of the influx of money that just came in their door on a slow night. Our second wedding reception did that for Pat’s (16th and Market) on a Sunday night and they took GREAT care of us.

– Running out of a food item. This happened to a girl at a different table – she went to get one of the appetizers on the happy hour special and they didn’t have the item. At 5:45 on a Monday. Seemed a little odd to me …

– Fairly crappy happy hour specials. I ordered one of my beers before happy hour ended and the second after it ended. 50 cent price difference. Wow, I’m glad I got that one in before happy hour ended. Craptasticness right there. No incentive to come during happy hour if that’s your special.

Even with that all being said, I can’t say for sure whether I would recommend Blake Street Tavern or not. If you wanted decent bar food? Hell no, stay away – I know of better places. If you wanted a good place to drink? Well, if you want specials, I’d say no, but in terms of atmosphere/ambiance? I really can’t say. I am willing to give them another shot during a busy time say, during baseball season or on Friday and/or Saturday nights when they turn their downstairs into a country bar (The Saloon at Blake Street Tavern). At that point, I’ll make my final decision on whether I choose to ever give them my money again.

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