Sacramento’s New Classic Sports Bar, Fieldhouse
My homegirl Liz Simpson and I stepped outside of our Midtown comfort zone to check out and document a new sports bar that had recently opened in the Arden-Arcade area, Fieldhouse. I grumbled about the name— doesn’t it seem like every new place opening up lately uses the trendy formula “Prefix-house?”
I later learned that Fieldhouse owners weren’t using some hack formula to name the restaurant, but that a field house is the structure at a ball field that houses all of the equipment and maintenance supplies for the venue. Shows how much my smug ass knows.
Fieldhouse is set in a strip mall on Fulton Avenue with a 24 Hour Fitness and other boring chains, but at least this means that the parking is a-plenty. It is decorated with sports memorabilia, old-timey sports photographs, a barrage of mounted flat-screen TVs blaring every kind of sporting event wherever one casts an eye and antique sports equipment. Fieldhouse is modern and comfortable, with understated furniture, dark wood accents, a welcoming bar at the center of the space, gray and brick walls, a shuffleboard table and darts.
The restaurant opened on March 5, 2014, by the elbow grease of Shady Lady owners (who act as consultants for Fieldhouse) Jason Boggs, Alex Origoni and Garrett Van Vleck, and owners Amir Daliri, Steve Squaglia and Mike Doherty.
Says Origoni, “Fieldhouse is a throwback inspired sports bar that pays homage to all sports, popular and obscure, throughout all eras… The menu consists of classic American pub fare with great care taken in sourcing the highest quality raw ingredients and the bar program is anchored by a large selection of high quality draft and bottled beers, as well as carefully constructed craft cocktails. All of these features combine to make Fieldhouse a casual, comfortable sports pub set in a classic environment with outstanding food and beverages.”
I was totally OK with all of those things, and by now the thirst and hunger were getting real.
We posted up at the bar and were immediately greeted by a cute, freckled redhead with bangs named Kristin, who quickly and skillfully procured our drinks that Midtowners will recognize from the Shady Lady cocktail menu: a Jameson and the Giant Peach and a Paloma. Beyond the signature cocktail list borrowed from Shady, Fieldhouse offers an expansive list of draught microbrews and cheap domestic beers one would expect of an upscale sports bar.
Although I sucked mine down fast, having had a rough week, I was impressed by the Paloma’s methodical distribution of tequila and grapefruit. The cocktails here are also easy on the eyes.
While we bullshitted with the bartender and whetted our whistles, we made a game plan for grub, ordered, and were soon served a smorgasbord of radness. We learned that the head chef is shared with the Shady Lady—Kevin Ritchie. His culinary background includes Executive Sous Chef at Michael Mina in San Francisco, Sous Chef at Fog City Diner in San Francisco and Line Cook at Waterboy.
The Rally Nachos are not the thrown-together pile of low-grade Sysco ingredients you’ve become accustomed to expect from a traditional sports bar. Rather, they are a thoughtful and picture-perfect assemblage of top quality elements. The fresh tortilla chips are carefully topped with roasted green chilies, Cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, black beans, red jalapenos and drizzled with a cumin-lime crema. They are nearly too pretty to eat, but after a first bite of these slightly spicy beauties, Liz and I had no problem destroying them.
Another dish we ordered with the intention of warding off gut brick and keeping things moving through was the Oregon Bay Shrimp Louie Salad. Also a meticulous plating, it was a bed of lemon cabbage slaw and cucumber slices, upon which was stacked avocado, Vega Farms hardboiled egg, tomato horseradish cocktail vinaigrette and, of course, Oregon Bay shrimps, which were tossed in a mustard seed dressing. At the apex of the salad, two sprigs of chives were crisscrossed. The salad was a lovely balance of textures and flavors—crisp, creamy, saucy, savory, sweet, tart and awesome.
For a little Southern comfort, we requested the Fried Green Tomatoes, a dish I was fuzzily familiar with from late nights at Shady Lady. Green heirloom tomatoes are encased in a homemade breadcrumb batter and flawlessly fried crunchy but not overdone, with the edges a slightly darker shade of brown from the overall golden color. They float above a thick, sour, yet sweet tarragon remoulade below a crown of fresh-as-a-daisy microgreens.
When Boggs became aware of the purpose of our visit (to review the menu offerings), he generously engaged his head chef to bring from the kitchen a couple of additional dishes. To get a feel for their take on sports bar grub, they recommended the Whiskey Burger and the Vietnamese wings.
So there we sat, happy campers, with a five-plate spread before us, showcasing every color of the rainbow and bestowing a wealth of amazing flavors on our eager taste buds. Those sitting at the bar around us had to ask why two svelte women such as ourselves were so damn hungry.
The half-pound Whiskey Burger elicited an, “Oh dang.” This is quite possibly one of the best burgers in Sacramento. Served on newsprint food service paper with black peppercorn fries, the Whiskey Burger comes on a toasted bun with spicy, bitter arugula; bacon on point in the shape of a stiff ‘X’; a whiskey-soaked patty of local ground beef; and cheddar cheese that melts and flows like lava over the whole masterpiece.
I’m not usually a fan of wings, as I find them fatty and gristly, and feel too animal-like gnawing flesh from bone with fingers covered in hot sauce. But with the Vietnamese wings, I took no issue with picking them bones clean with my teeth. The skin is sticky, spicy and sweet, and the crisply fried exterior gives way to juicy meat marinated with cilantro, mint and Serrano chilies, with chips of fried garlic.
Stuffed to the gills and smiling, I noticed that in spite of the recent opening, the place was already beginning to fill up with patrons. Origoni gratefully explains, “We have been warmly received by the community since opening and are continuing to see more new faces as word spreads.” Looks like another home run for the team at Shady Lady and their new partners.
Fieldhouse is located at 1310 Fulton Ave. in Sacramento. Open Monday – Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Check them out at Facebook.com/fieldhousesac for more details.