One of the most infuriating things about living in Atlanta is the existence of “blue laws”-laws that attempt to enforce moral standards by prohibiting certain activities. Namely, in Georgia, it is illegal to purchase alcohol on Sundays. Well, let me clarify-you can’t buy alcohol (which includes beer, wine, and liquor) at liquor stores, grocery stores, or convenience stores. But, you CAN go to a restaurant or bar and buy alcoholic drinks (and then get in your car and drive home, of course). Maddening.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered a sports bar in Atlanta that boasts-wait for it-table taps! That’s right, STATS (another Concentrics restaurant ) is the second location worldwide, and the first in the United States, to incorporate new technology by Table Tap, LLC that allows guests to pour their own beer. Once I heard about this magical place, I knew I had to try it out, stat (get it? Stat? STATS? Oh, forget it…)
Here’s how it works: There are a handful of tables private rooms within the restaurant that have two taps each. The beer choices are set by the restaurant-for example, there was a Sam Adams/Stella Artois table, a Guiness/Smithwick’s table, and a local brew table-but I was told that the options change fairly frequently. And, if you have a party of six (which is usually how many folks it takes to sit at a tap table), I’m sure you could request a particular pre-set pairing when you made the reservation. The taps are turned on once the table’s legal identification has been verified, and then guests are allowed to pour their own beer. There’s a digital system that regulates the beer to ensure that guests are not beyond the legal limit; in fact, if you hit a certain number of ounces, the taps turn off until the server comes to check on everyone. Then when guests are ready to leave, the system calculates the number of ounces that have been poured so that a bill can be generated.
We went at about 7:30 on a Saturday night, and even though we were only a party of four, we managed to snag the last tap table in the place. It happened to be the Sam Adams/Stella table, and we were pretty happy with that (hey, it could have been Miller Lite). The server checked our IDs and turned the taps on, and minus some initial problems with the Stella line, the whole system worked really smoothly-the carbonation was good, and the beers were cold and tasted fresh. I was so fascinated by the whole shebang that I served beers all night, which my friends seemed to appreciate. I do what I can. I’m a giver, ya know?
Is the table tap enough to make me a repeat customer at STATS? There was only one way to find out, and that was to taste the food. We ordered a sampler platter with shrimp quesadillas, queso dip with tortilla chips, and barbeque short ribs. I don’t really eat queso dip, but my cohorts said it was just average. The short ribs were meaty and falling-off-the-bone tender, but they could have used a bit more flavor. The shrimp quesadillas were outstanding-filled with HUGE shrimp that were perfectly cooked, with just enough cheese and a crunchy tortilla. The salsa was very good as well, so it made for a tasty treat. The four of us each got tastes of everything on the $19, so I feel like it was a fair amount of food for the price.
For entrees, three of us ordered burgers, and they were decent. Mine was cooked medium rare as requested, and it came with jack cheese, sour cream, poblano peppers, and red bell peppers. It was juicy, but it wasn’t anything special, especially for $13. Jason said his bacon cheeseburger was a bit dry, but otherwise it was “okay” (his was only $11). One of our friends got the pulled pork sandwich, and she seemed to enjoy it. All of us left things on our plates, whether it was half a burger (me) or a pile of fries (everyone else).
Service was really quite good, and the atmosphere was swanky and hip (TONS of high-end televisions, low lights, a digital sports ticker-tape going around the bar). There’s a rooftop deck, and the restaurant has a short list of cigars for sale. The wine list looked pretty respectable and reasonably priced, but seriously, at a sports bar? Probably not gonna happen, at least not at my table.
So, the verdict? STATS is a nifty concept, and would probably be a TON of fun for a large group that wanted to snack on apps, drink loads of beer, watch the game, and not have to wait for a busy server for a refill (again, wouldn’t have been a problem for us, since it was a slow night and our server was excellent). Otherwise, I’ll probably only return with out of town guests or for the occasional beer binge.