Sunday, January 11, 2009

Starters Riverport

This afternoon Melanie invited me out for dinner and a drink with her family and our friend Jackie, who's visiting Lehigh this week. Traditionalists love/d the "Old Starters" on Route 378, complete with its intimate and smoky atmosphere, sports memorabilia (oops I almost wrote crap) on the walls, good burgers, cheap beers and generally good service. If you like that place, you probably won't like Starters Riverport. You can't smoke, the drinks are pricey, the place is huge. And worst of all, the table service is reliably horrible. I don't know where they get these people. The food is not great, but I guess you're supposed to eat it while you're drinking a lot, so you won't taste the difference. I've tried a lot of things on the menu, and we've even been to brunch there. Melanie always gets the quesadilla so it must be good. John and Jackie both had salads. Grace had grilled cheese with fries of the kids menu and it came with ice cream. Ordering the ice cream was downright painful (see bad service, above).

Last night I just had a couple of beers, but had I been hungry, I would have gone with Brian Schneider's Sliders and fries. Brian caught for the Washington Nationals when we were in DC and now plays for the Mets, but he grew up in the Lehigh Valley (Northampton I think), and I'm sure he's honored to have rows of tiny burgers named after him. When I ordered the first Sam Seasonal draft, the server asked me if I wanted Oktoberfest (hope not - it might be a little... old) and whether I was 21...he asked...whether I was 21...if I weren't, would I say no?

Now, all of this criticism might lead you to believe that I don't like Starters, which in fact, is not true. I appreciate Starters Riverport for what it's good for - a nice selection of beers on tap, a smoke-free atmosphere, a place most people know how to get to, and covered parking. Plus you can almost always get a seat right away, which is more than you can say at most places. And there's entertainment: upstairs there are a few pool tables, and there's even an arcade downstairs. In addition to the 70 TV screens, sometimes Starter's has live music. And finally, it's a fun place for people watching, because it's pretty well-lit and a lot of people go for happy hour and on Saturday nights, even during a snow storm. Just be careful in the ladies room.

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