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Just the Ticket 

by Joel Smith & r & Pulling up to the Season Ticket, noticing all the pickups in the parking lot, glancing at all the neon Coors Light and Kokanee signs in the window, the three of us figured there was a good chance we could get our asses kicked that night. Stepping inside from the patio didn't disabuse of that notion. The jukebox was blasting Def Lep. Large men were hunkered around the three or four pool tables in the front of the room. The entry was clogged with green-topped poker tables, around which swarmed strange poker people -- tarted-up women in tube tops, guys who tucked their Enyce shirts in, without a belt. A couple of writers and a firefighter, we measured up the crowd and decided to go sit away in the corner. We'd be safer there.

Clearly, this wasn't our kind of place. But we were told it was good, despite rough-and-tumble appearances. Full disclosure: We were told that by two of the Ticket's employees -- one of whom used to work for The Inlander, one of whom is our operations assistant. The latter warned me to "be nice" in my review. I didn't make any promises.

The former, Deb, was working that night. She brought us a dark, delicious pitcher of Deschutes Jubelale, and we set to scouring the menu. The best part about the Season Ticket might be the appetizer menu, for two reasons, one of them quite large. First, this is a sports bar (and, formerly, a casino). Sports bars and appetizers go hand in hand. If you're like most people, who come to the Ticket to watch the Seahawks or a GU basketball game, you don't want to fill yourself up with steak in the first quarter and then just sit there for the rest of the game. You graze throughout. Same goes if you just got out of a victorious Chiefs game. (The Arena is just across the street.)

To that end, the Ticket's got you pretty well covered, with mozzarella sticks, onion rings and a tasty steak-and-mushroom concoction. Wings, too, which come slathered in a variety of sauces. We got Buffalo-style and were pleased with the result. Maybe the gristle-to-meat ratio was a little high, but the sauce was nicely balanced, with just the right levels of spice and sweetness and tang.

The really big reason that the Ticket scores with appy-fans is the Pitcher's Mound, their enormous plate of nachos. And when I say enormous, I mean it. We got the half order ($7), which was -- without exaggeration -- the size of a large, sleeping cat. We didn't have a ruler handy, but Luke measured the dome next to his pint glass -- the thing cleared the rim by a good two inches. We hoped it was hollow, that this was an artfully crafted artifice, a fa & ccedil;ade -- but no. It was just a solid wad of chips, mortared together with beans and cheese and jalapenos and tomato, etc. And remember -- this was the half order!

After a spectacle like that, you'd think the rest of our meal wouldn't stand a chance, but it held its own. I ordered the garlic-and-herb pasta ($10), thinking it a gutsy choice for a sports bar, so I might as well try it. Meat: chicken. Sauce: garlic and herb. I was pleasantly surprised. Though the pasta itself was a little past al dente, the sauce was rich and creamy and nicely flavorful, imbued with garlic.

Deb brought out another pitcher, of Bare Knuckle Stout, Anheuser-Busch's insipid attempt at a Guinness.

Choosing from the Ticket's more orthodox fare, Luke selected the barbecue beef sandwich ($7.50), which was tasty, if unremarkable: several slices of roast beef topped with a tangy barbecue sauce and some cheddary, Arby's-type concoction on a standard roll. Zach chose fish and chips ($8.50)-- generally a good basic indicator of a bar cook's skill. These arrived looking like rough-packed brown snowballs, a little too oily in the breading but tender and tasty.

Problem is, we overdid it a little on the appetizers (I'm looking at you, nachos). Meaning that about a quarter of a way through our entrees, our thoughts became recalcitrant and our eyes fixed into dull, lazy stares. Which is too bad, because I'd been looking forward to playing some shuffleboard. Still, we wobbled out the door without a scratch on us.

Season Ticket Sports, Spirits, and Grub & r & 1221 N. Howard St. & r & 11 am-2 am daily & r & Call: 327-9790

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