I don’t easily succumb to hype, but I couldn’t wait to check out the new and improved Freight House District. I’ve enjoyed all my visits to Aces’ stadium and could only see good things coming from enhancing its social scene. So last Thursday, I caught a game and a meal with my wife, Kat, her mother, Pam, and our baby Lily, who has no opinion of food yet. Walking toward Bugsy’s Sports Bar and Grill, past groups of people enjoying pregame drinks, there was a palpable energy floating amid heavy laughter, blaring club music, and the scent of garlic fries. In that moment, I thought this place might make it.
One meal at Bugsy’s has me rethinking this entirely.
We asked Bugsy’s hostess for a table for four at the window overlooking the third base line right as the first pitch was thrown. The restaurant was fairly packed, and I thought it something of a miracle we got our seats within 10 minutes. We wanted to see the game from a nice warm eatery. Watching from a comfortable vantage point is about Bugsy’s only value because the food is horrible, and you sure can’t hear the game. Only one TV in the corner was tuned to the game, and that one was drowned out by people talking and the jumbled din of all the other TVs broadcasting hockey and basketball.
We started with an order of the handcut buffalo and bleu cheese fries ($6) and a 20 oz. Coors for myself ($6) and a 16 oz. Pyramid Hefeweizen ($5) for Kat. Bugsy’s served up a heaping pile of fries liberally covered with low-grade bleu cheese and tossed with buffalo wing hot sauce. The fries are soggy and taste just like Frank’s buffalo hot sauce.
Pam ordered the char-grilled beer bratwurst with charred onions, spicy pickles and hot mustard ($8), Kat ordered the grilled chicken Caesar salad ($11), and I picked the red eye burger with cheddar, hot sauce and a sunny-side up egg ($11). Bugsy’s serves its food up quickly, almost too quickly. Pam’s brat had all the snappiness and spice I enjoy in a hot dog, but the bun was cold like it had just been pulled from a refrigerator. The lettuce in Kat’s salad was green and crispy, but the “house made” dressing tasted closer to Italian than a creamy Caesar. The chicken may have been grilled, but not recently, and being so dry, it was really tough to swallow, leaving more time to remark upon its lack of flavor. However, the buttery croutons and thick slabs of parmesan cheese weren’t half bad.
My displeasure with the burger started once I pulled off the untoasted bun to add some veggies. Bugsy’s claims to use “ground prime beef and handpack” all burgers, which is great, but I wish they’d thrown some seasoning in during that process. Though that’s not the worst part: Halfway through the burger, I took a bite and left trailing from the burger was a slimy strand of totally undercooked egg white. My stomach felt uneasy the rest of the evening.
The punishment continued with the orange dreamsicle cheesecake ($7). This was the most sour cheesecake I’ve ever eaten, covered with some utterly unrecognizable uber-sweet orange goo.
I left Bugsy’s feeling totally ripped off. I want the Freight House District to succeed, so it’s disappointing that one of its few restaurants is serving such lackluster, overpriced food. My recommendation: Eat in the stadium. It’s far better and cheaper. Simply put, Bugsy’s needs to rethink some things because baseball season does end, and I’m struggling to think of a reason anyone would visit when the Aces’ aren’t playing.