Locally, you're more likely to see an independent eatery shutter and a chain move in than you are to see the reverse. So it's an odd path that's led us from Indigo Joe's (the chain) to Indigo Bar and Grill (the franchise owner's split from said chain) to Stadium Bar and Grill (a rebooted effort under new ownership).
The former bar manager at Indigo Bar, Todd Cunningham, joined with regular customer Larry Lind to purchase the space and its assortment of sports paraphernalia last September. After reupholstering and repainting, they upsized the plasma quotient to 39 TVs facing every which way, including directly at you when at a urinal. Yup, it's that serious a sports bar, where pretty much any game on the planet can be viewed over $4 microbrew pints or $6, 25-ounce pours.
It's a spacious and likable sports bar, friendly referees — I mean, um, waitresses — at the ready. And the updated food offerings are good enough to warrant a non-game-time visit, when highlights and replays fill your periphery and a breathalyzer machine on the wall invites hops-laced stupidity.
Do they have wings, nachos, brats and burritos? You bet your Av-Bronco-Nugget-Falcon-Tiger-loving ass they do. Did we try them? No!
You see, Stadium plates a decently diverse menu with some seemingly gourmet highlights. Take, for instance, the house-made ceviche ($7.25) and seared ahi ($9.49) apps. The ceviche comes in a small martini glass with nice, almost pita-chip-thick house-fried tortilla chips and is great if viewed as a chip dip. (As ceviche, it lacks substantial citrus and a fair share of shrimp weight, mainly comprised as it is of tiny, jalapeño-flecked cubes of avocado, tomato and onion.)
The textbook tuna bears a heavy sesame-seed crust and pretty pink center with flash-seared sides, and is enjoyable with a soy-darkened wasabi cream sauce, which could use more wasabi. A wild Pacific salmon entrée ($12.25) also gets a nice grill and then garlic-butter sauté, leaving it moist and not needing the delivered steak-knife, though it could use a little more house seasoning to accent the clean, natural flavors. Accompanying Spanish rice is fine but could also use more spice, while sliced asparagus, carrot and bell peppers are pleasantly oiled, though a little on the mushy side.
No ill can be spoken of The Inferno burger ($9.99), though, loaded on a brioche bun with heat coming from pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and beer batter-fried jalapeños; long, thick-cut sweet potato fries are crisp and perfect.
A Caesar chicken wrap ($8.75) also succeeds inside a spinach tortilla with moist meat, a fun crouton crunch and good flavor from a house spice blend. A turkey melt on buttery sourdough ($8.75) benefits from competently house-roasted breast, even if it's somewhat overpowered by bacon among the fixins. Side slaw has a Dijon mustard bite but remains kind of deli-anywhere.
Lind's wife makes tight desserts (all $5.95), including a graham-cracker-pecan-crusted cheesecake with a stellar brown sugar cream sauce, and an almost torte-like, dense chocolate brownie cake with peanut butter layers.
All of which is to say: No, it's not perfect, but as with the TVs, there are plenty of highlights to take in at Stadium. Particularly considering its roots as a chain-launched sports bar.
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