Downtown Raleigh has a new kid on the block: Tobacco Road. By my definition it’s a sports bar; but lucky for sports fans with distinguishing appetites, the food soars way over the grub at a beer-ingesting, fanatic-congested hall of televisions. Score! I went last night with a group of friends for the Dook/Davidson and Carolina/College of Charleston games. The menu (pdf) covers many southern favorites and bar standards, some with mascot-themed names, like Wolfpack Wings, Blue Devil Crab Chowder, Hurricane Tomato Sandwich, Tar Heel Ram Wrap and Demon Deacon Tuna. The drink menu is extensive, too. Having foodstalked with LG over the internets while at work (Chef Scotty had made fried catfish and hushpuppies at her office), I had a certain menu item in mind. I ordered the Mudcat Fish & Chips. (The Mudcats are a minor league baseball team in the Triangle.)
The catfish–3 hefty filets–was smothered and fried in a thick beer batter. Probably a little too breaded for my taste, but fried is fried. And fried is good. A dash of malt vinegar or a dab of the apple cider vinegar tartar sauce with the tender fish and crunchy breading, and I had myself the perfect bite!
To round it out, I had a Bad Penny Brown Ale by Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh. That’s a damn good beer. Tons of flavor, slightly bitter and sweet. Tastes like beer, plus coffee and cola? I’m no beer expert, but I do enjoy drinking it. Cheers!
The overall atmosphere at Tobacco Road is still up for review. We were seated in a private dining room with a big table, a glass wall of doors and our very own television. The larger space is divided into dining room and bar. The bar side features a bazillion TVs, a row of recliners and a broadcast booth. ESPN’s Mike Tirico visited last week to air his show. When returning with a smaller group, I think the bar side would be just fine. Tobacco Road was elected by online vote to be a non-smoking establishment. Finally, I love love the name. To me Tobacco Road means conference play, the original ACC (before the BC, Miami and VaTech stragglers), rivalries, upsets, net-cutting. All that good stuff that is North Carolina basketball. And I’m not referring just to my team, but to the state: NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Dook and Wake. Each of those universities is located along I-40, the first three within 20 miles of one another. The current AP Poll ranks Tobacco Road teams in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions. Not too shabby.
Now entering shameless, biased content. Let’s go Tar Heels!