Review: Parlor in The Grove
With respectable cocktails, an edgy hipster vibe and more than a dozen arcade games, Parlor in The Grove is the place to go if you want a night out that involves more than staring at your friends across a table.
The large space is ringed by all the nostalgia-inducing arcade games you could want – including pinball, racing games, Pac-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tapper, a hilariously retro 1980s Budweiser-branded game that has players service a busy bar. To keep things fresh, Parlor occasionally changes up what’s offered. A coin machine is conveniently located on-site, making it easy to acquire quarters. You’ll need a lot – it doesn’t take long to burn through $10.
Parlor’s decor tones down the loud neon of the arcade games with the help of exposed brick and a black, gray and white color palette. Taxidermied animals add to the eclectic air. The space was clearly designed for mingling with limited seating and communal tables. The result is a loud, fun bar that’s also sophisticated and cool. On weekends (and occasionally during the week) the party atmosphere is pumped up with a DJ spinning tunes.
The games are the point at Parlor, but the booze is far from an afterthought. Heavily tattooed bartenders serve drinks, including a small list of New Orleans-inspired specialty concoctions dreamed up by Casey Colgan, who previously tended bar at Atomic Cowboy and Handlebar.
The daiquiri is a straight-up classic made with rum, lime juice and simple syrup. No sugary slush here. La Louisiane is another classic done well – a boozy mixture of High West Double Rye, Benedictine herbal liqueur, sweet vermouth and bitters. For groups of four, Parlor offers a Gin Bucket served in a large silver trophy. With lime Vess, vanilla, sweet vermouth, bitters and, of course, gin, it’s sweet and sour with an herbal undertone. A few of the cocktails were a touch too sweet, but otherwise solid. Eight beers are on draft with more available in cans. Canned wine is also available.
Out back is a large patio with picnic tables, bold hand-painted murals and string lights. Can you even call it a bar these days without string lights? It’s also the permanent parking spot of the Nug Shack, a food truck run by Byrd & Barrel. The truck serves up a handful of chicken sandwiches (cauliflower is available as a swap on one item), as well as Byrd & Barrel’s much-loved Nugz. On one visit, the Nug Shack was already out of a few items by 9 p.m., so late-night noshers may have limited options.
As with many food trucks, service was a little slow but worth the wait. The garlic naan taco, which folds chicken tikka masala, pickled red cabbage, bean sprouts, herbs and basil creme into a soft naan, isn’t shy with the curry. Dripping with tikka masala sauce, it’s messy to eat but perfect for a late-night Indian craving. Also notable was the Ole’ Smokey, which sandwiches smoked barbecue chicken, cheese, ranch slaw and Flamin’ Hot Funyuns on a pretzel bun.
Parlor calls itself a neighborhood bar and – games aside – that’s exactly what it is, given the mix of hipster millennials, young professionals, couples on dates and groups of friends you’ll find there. The best part: Each game has a wire drink rack, so you never have to choose between enjoying a cocktail and showing off your skee-ball chops.
Stephanie Zeilenga is a critic for Sauce Magazine.
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