This is the first scene of the second act of a project undertaken by the author to find the proper company, both in human interaction and in drink, to endure the rebuilding era of Philadelphia Phillies baseball. Absent friends who even bother to pretend to care about the Phillies, that same author has taken to the streets, as it were, of Philadelphia and its environs to find the ideal spot to watch a Phillies game. Just as Socrates found himself unsatisfied in his pursuit of the Forms, the present author will likely find himself in a similarly futile, albeit less noble, pursuit. Nonetheless, this series has been promised to the internet, and internet promises must be upheld.
Note: If you require a refresher on the exceptionally rigorous methodology behind these reviews, refer to the first post in this series.
This season, due to the reviewer's offseason move to the suburbs (henceforth referred to as "the ‘burbs"), the geographical scope of this series will be expanding slightly westward. Seeing as westward expansion is as essential to the American fabric weaved by old white historians as baseball, it seems justifiable that, even in its infancy, this exploration would turn westward. As it was last year, the evaluative glance will primarily focus on bars in the city of Philadelphia, but some weeks it might not be possible to conduct extended baseballing business in the city.
Because I remembered on Friday that last summer I made an unbreakable internet promise to deliver weekly bar reviews, I did not have the opportunity to venture city-side to conduct a proper review, so the 2015 season will begin in the suburbs at The Great American Pub in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
The Great American Pub embodies the model of old-man bar perfectly. The decor is both tacky and old. From the worn wood of the bar to the plastic "stained-glass" to signs for crappy macrobrews of yesteryear, a visit to the Great American Pub might as well be a visit to your grandfather's basement, if that basement had other people in it and served beer rather than being unoccupied and full of tools and half-finished repair jobs.
That aesthetic is fine by me and I hope my prose didn't come across as indicating otherwise. Especially as a venue for viewing as decidedly old-fashioned and metathesiophobic an organization as the Phillies, the Great American Pub provides such a perfect venue, one almost expects to see David Montgomery occupying an adjacent stool at the bar.
Phillies Game Specials: 40
From what I can gather, the only sporting-event-related specials are in conjunction with Monday Night Football. Damn Roger Goodell, damn him to hell. Even without specials specific to the game, however, the Great American Pub has rotating specials on most nights and generally cheap prices even when they don't. Additionally, they have beer specials running Monday - Thursday nights, and all-day specials on Saturday and Sunday. With the exception of Thursday night's "Craft Beer Special," all the other offers allow one to order a beer costing $3 or under.
There were no food specials for the game.
Noticeability of the Game: 55
On a Friday night, the Phillies game was featured on approximately half of the televisions in the establishment. For the current season, in which everyone expects the Phillies to not contend at all, that a bar willingly cheapens their product by associating themselves with the team projects well for its future value. The knock on the Great American Pub in terms of noticeability, however, is the lack of game audio. To be fair, I conducted this review on a Friday night, which is one of the two least likely nights for a bar to stream the game through its audio system. Regardless, it is a deduction, though perhaps one that I should revisit at a later date.
Quality of Fans/Other Clientele: 60
Because of its location in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the Great American Pub attracts an older clientele, which, as one of those danged millennials, does not exactly match with my desired scene. However, because older people are a more baseball-inclined demographic than younger people, the higher average age of the Pubs patrons provides for a more communal baseball-watching environment than many younger bars. There were other people there for the sole purpose of watching the game, which I don't recall seeing during my travels last summer/fall. That people came out on a Friday night to watch the game at this bar strikes me as information suggesting that the atmosphere might be quite nice on a slower weeknight.
Beer/Food: 35/65 (Combined: 50)
As I mentioned above, this is an old man bar, a distinction which typically, and in this case accurately, suggests a limited and macrobrew-heavy beer selection. Unlike, some of the bars I reviewed here last year, the beer list at the Great American Pub will not challenge the Phillies game for most engaging part of the experience. While the selection is limited and underwhelming, the low cost of the offerings somewhat makes up for that.
What the Great American Pub lacks in beer quality, it more than makes up for with its food. I've eaten here on a number of occasions since moving to the Main Line and have liked everything I've tried. Again, there aren't any Phillies-related specials, but the prices are pretty good without the help of a deal. One thing I like about their kitchen is that they know what they are--a bar at which unhappily married men can be not at home--and stick to greasy, normatively manly, bar food like pizza, burgers, and various fried appetizers. Their burgers, in particular, are top-notch, especially the Cobb Burger, which is adorned with avocado, bacon, and blue cheese.
My only substantive complaint with this bar is the lack of specials during games. Otherwise, it fits a lot of what I am looking for in a bar: neighborhood place, people with whom to commiserate, and alcohol. The lack of specials will likely prevent it from ever achieving glory in the hallowed halls of these rankings, but it projects to make a couple All-Star teams and gain entrance to the still-esteemed hall of very good.
Overall Grade: 65
Updated Rankings: As a new feature, I'll be updating the rankings of the bars I've visited based on how I graded them at the time of my visit. In the future, grades might be updated and bars might move up and down the list. Instances like those, if they ever occur, will be duly noted. Ties have been broken arbitrarily.
Great American Pub (Wayne, PA): 65
Devils Den: 55
Next week, we will venture into the city. If you feel strongly that a particular bar will hold up favorably under the scrutiny of these reviews, share it in the comments and I will make every effort to feature it in a future episode.