Fun, fun, fun.
With two techno-styled bars, a jukebox from the future, and a wildly wacky menu, Blaze’s Sports Grill, is a burst of energy for both the University of Texas at Arlington campus and the city at large.
Built in the commercial strip along the new eastern edge of UTA, Blaze’s attracts a faculty/community crowd early in the evening and, as the night goes on, a student crowd focused on drinks like the Sorority Girl (cherry vodka, grenadine and Sprite) and the Duckie Boy (a $10 tipple-for-two featuring vodka, gin, Triple Sec, Blue Curacao and Sprite served in a fish bowl and garnished with a floating rubber ducky).
Things are just ducky with Blaze’s on lots of levels. The decor is a sleek steel-gray with ice-blue accents. On pretty days, the window-walls slid back to connect the restaurant to a patio that features multiple fire pits. The game — the Rangers, the Mavs, whoever’s up — flickers across 40-some TVs. Live music blasts on Friday nights. (Quiet is one thing this restaurant doesn’t serve.)
Chef William Keller — claim to fame: one-time personal chef to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler — has created a large, imaginative menu, based on sports-bar standards but with lots of twists, and ranging all the way from a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich to surf and turf. We took two sandwiches and two entrees out for a test-drive.
Mom’s cold meatloaf sandwich ($8) begins with a huge chunk of meatloaf wrapped in thick-sliced bacon and placed in a chewy, Italian-style bun. A sweet jalapeño ketchup, more like a chili sauce than traditional ketchup, is ladled on thick and it’s all topped with a fist-sized serving of crispy, skinny onion strings. Who knew meatloaf could be so sexy?
There are eight options on the dog-house portion of the menu, including a corn dog battered with candied jalapeño cornmeal. We opted for the Italian dog ($8), which is an over-sized all-beef dog tucked into a New England-style bun, and generously topped with sauteed bell peppers, onions and diced potatoes. We’re not sure the diced potatoes added much, but overall we liked the Italian dog so much we plan to work our way through all eight dog choices over time.
We were equally pleased with the house-made apple slaw, dressed with a lighter sauce than most restaurant coleslaws.
The pepper jack lobster mac & cheese casserole ($12) was a daintier meal than either of the sandwiches. Plentiful bits of green and red peppers gave the mac & cheese a pleasant bite and there was a sliver of lobster buried in the noodles, but the lobster claw atop the dish promised by the menu photo did not appear.
Intoxicated whiskey chicken ($9) is a flattened chicken breast smothered in a Jack Daniels-spiked cream sauce and layered over risotto. It’s an adequate but not intoxicating dish.
Blaze’s is coming out with a “tweaked” menu at the end of the month, removing some dishes and adding a few others, including three additions to the Sunday brunch.
Speaking of Sunday, Blaze’s creativity continues with the Sunday “hangover” brunch. We haven’t brunched there yet but we’re eager to try the “hangover posole,” and the lox and cream cheese on a Bavarian pretzel. Fun, fun, fun.