On the ropes

The D’arce Choke salad comes with chicken, iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade ranch dressing.

The D’arce Choke salad comes with chicken, iceberg lettuce, red onion, tomato, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade ranch dressing.


Visit http://knockoutsreno.com. Open 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Knockouts is a sports bar with a UFC fighting theme, though it may be a double entendre—the staff is comprised entirely of attractive young ladies. If only the service matched the scenery. Ours was the only table ordering food, yet it took close to an hour for our appetizer to appear and a full 90 minutes before the six-item order was complete.

We started on chicken wings ($9.49, eight pieces) from a choice of seven flavors, ordering half “Gotti style” and half hot. The wings were an average size and very crispy without being overcooked. The hot sauce was anything but, tasting mostly very sweet with a hint of spice. Gotti style was a rub of powdered garlic and Parmesan that wasn’t bad, just a bit dry.

I wanted to taste the chili ($4.49) so I asked if they could do a cup rather than a full bowl. They had no cups, so a bowl was filled halfway, topped with shredded cheese, onion and a dollop of sour cream. The mixture was basic hamburger chili with beans, but like the hot wing sauce it was sweet rather than spicy, akin to marinara. It reminded me of the chili served by a certain eponymous chain restaurant, bland and sweet. Adding insult to injury, it was served just above room temperature.

Sandwiches and salads are all named for fighting terms. The Over Hand Right burger ($9.99) was—according to the menu—a 1/3 pound patty with cheddar and American cheese, mayo, onion, lettuce and tomato, served on a tiny bun with a side of steak fries. I was asked how I’d like it cooked—medium rare—and received it well done, much like the burgers your uncle overcooks in the backyard. Frankly, this was the smallest $10 burger I’ve ever seen, thrown together in a way that required reassembly before taking a bite. The handful of fries were fine.

My wife’s Footwork salad ($10.49) involved grilled skirt steak, baby spinach, iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion, shredded cheese and crumbled blue cheese. The meat was tender yet underseasoned, and there wasn’t much of it. The plate was mostly a sea of iceberg with an odd grouping of spinach on the sides and a bit of cheese and veggies. You can have any dressing you like so long as it’s ranch.

After the wait for food, it was almost amusing that they choked on a D’arce Choke salad ($9.49), which was apparently not added to the ticket. Though I ordered it with grilled chicken, my pile of iceberg was covered with a ton of very dry, deep-fried breast meat that was difficult to eat. Evidently they were trying to compensate for delivering it half an hour late, but serving up twice as much of a bad thing doesn’t make it good.

I’d been told to try the pizza ($9.99, 12 inches with three toppings), only found on the specials board. Though easily the most successful item ordered, it was adequate—not award-winning. The pie was topped with plenty of cheese, mushroom, black olive and sausage, and—while the crust didn’t have a lot of flavor—it was definitely housemade and hand-formed. It wasn’t completely crispy, but the edges had nice chew. The sauce tasted much like the chili—bland and sweet—but luckily there wasn’t much on the pie. Extra points for using a puree with tomato chunks instead of canned sauce. For the money, I wouldn’t mind another bite of that pizza, but I’ll phone it in an hour ahead and take it home.