Is there such a thing as an artisanal sports bar?
That's sort of the vibe at Courtside, the Mount Pleasant paean to all things NBA. The just-opened 2415 Main St venue is a slickly-packaged homage to basketball, from the polished court-striped floors to the jerseys and shoes displayed on the walls.
A massive scoreboard hangs at the front entrance, and on the flip side, it's a huge TV for - presumably - catching a game. There are a couple of TVs going behind the bar, which flanks the left side of the back half of the room. If you choose your seats carefully, you might actually be able to see a TV. You also might hit your head on any of the acrylic shelves or casings holding those jerseys and shoes; I watched a guy at a high-top table hit his head on one, I ate my meal with a shoe shelf precariously close to the back of my neck.
We showed up for a weekday lunch and were able to choose seats with ease. I don't know if they take reservations with requests for seats with TV views if you did want to ensure you could see a game; Courtside's website says "text us," so I did, and they never replied. Godspeed, basketball fans.
Since I'm admittedly a fairweather basketball fan - as in, I had a blast getting on the bandwagon for the Lakers ahead of their 2010 championship, which infamously resulted in rioting, but that's about the extent of it - I wasn't there solely to ogle the merch or the museum-like displays. It's an impressive collection, to be fair, and nicely executed. The design of the space is sharp and engaging and, in the daytime, there's lots of light filling the room.
Courtside's menu: food and drink
I'm here for the food, of course, and the menu is impressive. The premise, I am guessing, is an elevated take on what you might find at an arena, so handhelds (fried chicken sandwich, smashburger) and some clever share plates, including things you don't see too often, like currywurst, and deep-fried ravioli.
To keep things interesting, the ravioli and the house hot dog are done up in rotating "special" flavours, available for a few days each until they switch it out. I tried their chorizo and ricotta ravioli and their Detroit pizza-inspired hot dog (a smart way for the kitchen to make double use of marinara sauce), and both were enjoyable. In particular, the hot dog was snappy and juicy with a beautiful meaty flavour not hindered by the addition of the sauce and cheese.
Courtside gives a nod to the neighbourhood's food history with its nachos, which our server said were a tribute to the legendary Foundation, which once thrived just a couple of blocks down on Main and dished up tray after tray of their beloved nachos. The basic platter here comes with cheese, black beans, corn, tomato, pickled onion, cilantro, and jalapeno, with a side of blended salsa. Add-on options for an up-charge include things like fried chicken or guac. The salsa is a little watery and bland but the nachos themselves are exactly what you want when you sit down for some drinks.
Speaking of drinks, Courtside has about a half dozen craft cocktails all with b-ball themed names; the Step Back Margarita is calling my name for a future visit (it's got Jalapeño Olmeca Altos Plata tequila, charred pineapple Cointreau, lime, and a smoked salt rim). There are a few wines by the glass and bottle, primarily B.C., and a selection of craft beers and ciders on tap.
The branding is on point here (high marks for the liner paper for the nacho tray and food baskets) which definitely shifts the vibe from stadium or traditional no frills sports bar hang, which shows these folks are all about creating a purposeful sense of place. From the high-quality ingredients in the food to the obvious thoughtful curation of the theme (your bill comes with old school basketball player trading cards you can take with you), if there was such a thing as an "artisanal" sports bar, Courtside is definitely it.
@forkingawesomevia Insert basketball pun here. #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #basketball🏀 🎙️: @LindsayWR ♬ Basketball - Lil Bow Wow
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