Put me in the game

A tall glass of beer and one of Coach’s many appetizers, shrimp kisses.

A tall glass of beer and one of Coach’s many appetizers, shrimp kisses.

Photo/Allison Young

Coach's Grill & Sports Bar No. 2 is open is open 9 a.m. til midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. til 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday.

With a couple of well-established competitors in the immediate neighborhood, Coach’s Grill & Sports Bar, No. 2 is going to have to bring its A game to stand apart. Unfortunately, my first visit to this recently opened pub wasn’t exactly a slam dunk.

Coach’s new second location is decked out with custom tables, drink rails, a couple of dart boards and pool tables, a small stage—no word yet on live music—and plenty of televisions tuned to sports programming. Unlike their original location, children are welcome during daylight hours, and there is no smoking allowed other than outdoors on the patio.

Having skipped dinner, I talked my wife into joining me for some late night munchies around 11 p.m. on a Friday night. Although the menu includes a full page of breakfast items—served at all hours—along with pizza, salads, sandwiches, burgers and pasta, I was in the mood for appetizers. My wife decided to be a little less wicked and ordered a salad. There weren’t more than a handful of other folks in the place. We were seated without delay.

Clam chowder was—of course—Friday’s soup of the day ($4.50, small bowl). I’ve sampled plenty of “New England” clam chowder over the years, and this example had outstanding flavor with huge chunks of bacon and clam. However, I was literally able to stand a spoon straight up in the middle of the bowl. Perhaps it sat on a warmer all day, thus gaining the consistency of thick porridge. Still tasty, though.

My wife’s cobb salad seemed small for the price, or as she put it, “underwhelming” ($11.95). It was served missing a few key ingredients, enough that in hindsight I think perhaps a house salad with added chicken breast was what she received. Had I thought of this before paying I might have asked to have the check adjusted.

An order of three sliders ($6.95), including one each of cilantro/jalapeño, garlic mayo and “Black & Blue” (blackened patty topped with blue cheese crumbles) was similarly disappointing. The patties were very thin and dry, completely dwarfed by the buns. Although there was plenty of blue cheese, I couldn’t detect any Cajun blackening on the meat. The garlic mayo was fair, but I couldn’t taste either cilantro or jalapeño on the third burger.

Our basket of chicken wings was more enjoyable ($9.95). Although a bit on the small side, the wings were cooked properly, there were plenty for the price, and the hot wing sauce was right on target. Less amazing were the shrimp kisses ($9.95), described as seven jumbo shrimp stuffed with jalapeños and pepper jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and either broiled or fried. Our friendly server suggested trying both styles. I ended up with four broiled and three that were battered and deep fried.

The fried morsels suffered in the flavor department. The taste of shrimp and bacon was muted by the heaviness of oil and batter, but at least they were fully cooked. The bacon on the broiled variety was crispy and the exposed areas of shrimp were done, but the wrapped portion of shrimp was just barely cooked through. No pink visible, but the texture was a lot softer than you’d expect from cooked shellfish. Served with red and white cocktail sauces, I found the white sauce to be a bit too rich and heavy. Further, I couldn’t find a speck of stuffing in either version, furthering my suspicion that whoever was cooking that night is unfamiliar with the menu.

The place has only been open a couple of months and I’m sure they’re still working out the kinks. If nothing else, I’d like to return on a Friday at lunchtime to revisit that odd-but-tasty chowder. If it’s still thick enough to support flatware, I’m going to ask for sourdough and spread it on toast.