By Jake Bear
Downtown State College provides its students with a cornucopia of restaurants with varying foods and atmospheres. One of the most popular combinations, and in my opinion as a student the best, is the traditional sports bar and grill. A recent destination I attended during a football weekend was Happy Valley’s Bar Bleu, which is located just off of College Avenue– an easy walk from anywhere on campus.
Upon entering the bar I was pleasantly surprised to encounter not just a few large-screen TVs as is the norm for most sports bars, but in fact 22 flat-screens, each one displaying a popular game on that day. If the media streaming throughout the bar isn’t enough for satisfying the most avid fan, then the menu’s certainly capable of filling the void: wings, chips and dip, burgers, ribs, essentially every food needed to pacify a ravenous appetite. Probably the most impressive area of the menu is the prices, which for a downtown restaurant are very reasonable.
The only negative aspect of my meal there was the service, which is unfortunate because that can make or break a restaurant. After being seated I sat for about 15 minutes before my waitress approached the table with tablet in hand; however, after this initial slip-up, the rest of the meal went along smoothly with her checking back occasionally, assuring my satisfaction.
As for my meal I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of fries, a traditional bar staple. The fries that accompanied the sandwich were not anything special, but not at all offensive either, simply serving as filler after consuming the main dish. I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of barbeque, but on the other hand I have had quite a few in my day, and I must say this one was superb. The pulled pork was just cool enough to eat right out of the kitchen. It sat piled high atop the bottom of its brioche roll, the top lying flipped beside, inviting its consumer to dress it with one of the six additional sauces provided at the table—ranging from mild to spicy with varying ratios of vinegar and tomato—in my case the original, which had an equal balance of sweet and tangy with a little less vinegar bite. For those unfamiliar with brioche rolls, as I was prior to the occasion, it has a stiff outer crust and airy, dry interior; one that self-destructs upon first bite and relies on the full use of hands for structural integrity. Past its sloppy exterior, the taste buds are flooded with the combination of spices from the sauce, as well as the succulent pork itself; totaling at six dollars, it is a meal compatible with any student’s wallet.
Bar Bleu provides its customers with a comfortable spot to enjoy some sports, good food, and good friends. While the sports bar theme has been done time and time again, Bar Bleu will surely not disappoint.