Barcade is a secret that I don't want to tell.
I really don’t want to write this review. Why? I don’t want you to hear about Barcade, the new Fishtown bar that also masquerades as an arcade. I want this to be my own little secret, shared only with other locals, nostalgic gamers and beer aficionados who may frequent this warehouse–cum–bar off Frankford Avenue.
It’s honestly a great space; the team managed to preserve the warehouse feel, but added a cool and comfortable environment for drinking, eating and, of course, gaming. And just steps from the Girard stop on the Market–Frankford Line, the trip is almost effortless.
If you enjoy good beer and had a childhood knack for video games, then Barcade is impossible not to like. While you won’t get the Jersey shore boardwalk kind of feel here (you won’t find skee–ball or whac–a–mole), Barcade’s old school machines are refreshingly fun. When was the last time you could swap between Asteroids, Ms. PacMan, Tron, Galaga and Paperboy while drinking a reasonably priced craft beer from a rotating list of 25?
Barcade has an extensive beer selection ($5–8), in addition to a full bar and other beverage options, but it’s the rotating taps and one cask that stand out. Though the variety might be daunting for those accustomed to Natty, the staff is knowledgeable and willing to point you toward their favorites. They’ll also give you a taste of any beer before you order.
My friends and I sampled the Bavarian Barbarian Grumpy Pumpkin, a genius Imperial Porter that is offered seasonally and tastes like the real pumpkin and spices used in the brewing process. Continuing our attempts to combat the cold weather, we sipped on Stone’s 15th Anniversary, an Imperial Black IPA that was literally black in color and one of the best I’ve had from this category of brew. Tasting both earthy and bready, the beer was perfectly bitter.
We were able to taste Furthermore’s Fallen Apple, a cream ale infused and brewed with apple juice. Unfortunately headless, it poured more like an alcoholic juice than a beer, but was very drinkable, bearing a strong apple flavor. On the other hand, Doc’s Hard Cider advertises itself correctly — tart and dry, it is a welcome switch from the headache–inducing sweetness of a Woodchuck Cider.
While Barcade’s focus is definitely on the beer and the small–batch fermentation of anything else, they offer a small menu of snacks and sandwiches, too. It’s bar food, but quirky; toast is served with nutella and bacon ($4). Under guidance from our already trusted bartender, we dug into two sandwiches: a pulled pork with pepper jack ($7), and a smoked chicken and apple sausage with grainy mustard and Boursin ($6).
For a city that is rife with amazing pulled pork, nobody was inclined to proclaim victory for Barcade, but overall, this was a solid sandwich. The sausage was less successful — flavorful goes wrong when you’ve tasted its liquid counterpart all night. Besides, slightly boozed up from my 10.8% ABV black IPA, a couple pretzels, leftover mustard and a large stack of quarters in hand, at this point in the night, I could only wish for more success at Asteroids.