Sports bars are forever trying to associate themselves with a fictional pub in Boston. Usually it comes off as little more than advertising copy.
Bogie's Beach Bar draws no such parallels, but sitting in the bar area for a couple of hours on a random weeknight, it is hard not to notice: Everyone seems to know each other's name. Customer after customer walks in and is greeted by name and with a beverage ready for them before they ask for it.
It's hard to know whether the assembled crowd is here for the camaraderie or the always-happy-hour drink deals or beach volleyball leagues at a location 10 miles from any naturally occurring beach.
I came to see if the food is worth the trip, and while no one knows my name, it seems like the kind of place where that would change with more than a couple of recurring visits. So I'll make this quick.
I searched the menu for the things that don't look like something you can get at every other sports bar, either in concept or the prefab food from the exact same manufacturers. Eyebrows are first raised at the blackened tuna Philly ($7.99) on the sandwich menu. It isn't something I've seen before. It doesn't sound like a great idea, necessarily, but I was willing to be proved wrong.
It comes out on a traditional hoagie roll. Chunks of blackened fish fill the bread, along with grilled mushrooms, peppers and onions. No mind is paid to the culinary rule that fish and cheese need to be kept apart, as a blanket of provolone covers the whole thing.
I liked it. The fish was firm and cooked through, which wouldn't be my first choice for tuna, but with the spices and the other players, the meat was largely a textural element, and seemed a little like chicken. If the things that make tuna good are a bit obscured, it was also missing any of the problems that can present themselves with overcooked fish. With a side of the thick-cut chips fried in-house, I'd have it again.
Borscht is something you don't find at every sports bar, and it is a decent version here that was a soup of the day on one of our visits. A strong broth with a bowl full of cabbage and other vegetables, it was quite hearty. The chili was less interesting, a bowl of ground beef and tomato sauce without a lot of zing (cups $2, bowls $3.50).
Another thing on the menu that caught my attention was beef stroganoff. It was disappointing because it seemed a little too simple, a dish of egg noodles with small chunks of beef in a sauce that reminded me of a can of cream of mushroom soup. Coincidentally, that dish has come off the menu since we visited. Take that as a sign that the kitchen is willing to punt on dishes that don't work.
Other dishes we tried were completely acceptable sports bar fare. Ten-ounce burgers ($7.25-$8) are charred, and if you finish the double burger ($11.99), you get your photo on the wall. A plate of fried shrimp ($12.99) included 15 mediums that were crispy and paired with a cocktail sauce with a good horseradish kick. A fried chicken breast sandwich ($6.99) was heavily breaded, but a good-sized piece of chicken was on the bun.
Owners Yakov and Yelena Podolskaya are also making the bar more interesting, stocking vodkas from Lithuania and Ukraine, cognac from Armenia and beers from Russia.
There's a pirate motif to parts of the dining room, complete with a life-size mannequin in the corner near the entrance. He is Bogie, word has it. My guess had been that the name of the place had been a play on the location's previous life as a driving range. The range has since given way to the beach volleyball courts, where leagues face off several nights a week.
Jim Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8746. He dines anonymously and unannounced. The Times pays all expenses. Advertising has nothing to do with selection for review or the assessment.