Sports Bar and Grill may evoke preconceptions of a testosterone-filled place where pints, football and large slabs of steak are the order of the day; however, this Marylebone venue works hard to break the stereotype with the emphasis placed on a sports bar that appeals to all.
Ideally located on the boundaries of Marylebone Station, with a street and station concourse entrance, Sports Bar and Grill benefits from its central positioning. The corner building is sprawling, set across two floors and encapsulating three separate bars. Upon entering, the open, airy bar puts aside any fears that this is a lads only footie spot.
The pierce de resistance, and the main reason for coming here, are several large screens placed high at regular intervals throughout the bar for screening the big games. These screens utilise the latest Sony technology of 200Hz Motionflow technology, providing the smoothest picture ideal for watching fast-paced sports games (upping the average 50 frames a second of standard TVs to 200 frames per second) and the quality really is discernibly better. The large expanse of space and number of TVs they offer make this an ideal spot for piling into for big sporting events when you don’t want to be crammed around one screen in a small pub.
The colour scheme in the main bar area is a little garish; red blocks of colour on the floor is broken up by a length of black carpeting. This clashes against sickly yellow and orange walls. The space is filled by basic wooden tables and chairs with higher versions pushed up against the windows. However, the effect is softened by some attractive chandelier-style light fittings contrasting against a collection of bulbs dangling from long wires out of the ceiling, providing an interesting design feature by the street-side main door. A nice feature is the long open kitchen, which extends out to form the main bar. Exposed brick sits below, working against the style of the chandeliers. Perhaps a little try hard, the mix of basic and upmarket design touches stays the right side of the line.
Just off the concourse entrance is the Scarlet Bar, a room available for private hire. Unsurprisingly red in colour, it’s smaller than the main room but does have an impressive fully-equipped bar ideal for private parties.
Downstairs is a second bar area with the same colourscheme as the main bar. Again, the space is large and airy although there are fewer screens down here. What makes it stand out are five American pool tables with purple felt and a separate darts room. A large bar fully equipped with a good choice of wine and draught beer is also down here. This area can be hired. Throughout the venue sporting memorabilia from a signed Pete Sampras kit and England shirt to sports magazine covers adourn the walls, providing a nice decorative touch that ties in with the theme.
With a name like the Sports Bar and Grill it’s unsurprising that the main focus of the bar is geared up towards sporting events. However, during the day the clientele consists mainly of suits from local offices indulging in food with colleagues rather than lads watching the big screens. With the programmes muted, they screen things like the Milan channel for those looking to watch the Italian greats. Being spread across several areas benefits the bar on Champions League nights when more than one game is shown in different areas. On evenings when the football is on, you’re more likely to hear rowdy shouts of ‘ref!’ descending across the space; however, it’s not an intimidating bar and doesn’t invite trouble, especially for those who couldn’t care less about the latest FA Cup result.
The staff are friendly and attentive and help the bar to lose any possible intimidating ambience often associated with sports venues. Full of smiles offering an efficient service, you won’t have to wait too long to be served.
There’s a decent menu available at the Sports Bar and Grill with an emphasis on easy to eat pub staples in large portions. Breakfasts are also catered for with everything from toast (£1.95) to a full English (£7.95) on offer, available 7.30am-11.30am.
Throughout the rest of the day the main menu opens up. It spans starters like Welsh rarebit with bacon (£4.95), soup of the day (3.95) and a half rack of BBQ ribs (£5.95). There’s also a good choice of quality burgers (£7.95-£9.95), which appear on heavy wooden boards with a metal cup filled with chips – a nice decorative flourish. Even the salads are well presented in heavy wooden bowls. The portion sizes are on the generous side and you’ll be hard pushed not to finish feeling full.
If you’re popping in for a quick lunch then the speedy delivery of food is appreciated and the large selection of cold and warm sandwiches is impressive. Highly recommended is the Yankee cheese steak warm sandwich with thinly sliced beef, melted cheddar and sauteed onions (£7.95). Appearing as a decent sized simple sandwich packed full with filling, it’s a little hard to eat but worth the effort. The steak is well cooked and tender without the toughness you can sometimes get in steak sandwiches. It’s well complemented by a generous helping of the mature cheddar and the sauteed onions are soft and well portioned so they don’t overpower the flavours coming through from the steak. Appearing as the burgers do, on a large wooden board, they also come with a metal cup filled with crispy stringy fries that aren’t at all greasy. It’s a great lunchtime dish if you want something low key.
There’s a nice selection of well priced bottles of wine at Sports Bar and Grill, ranging from £12.50-£28 covering ten reds and as many whites with tasting notes on the menu helping to make your decision easier. There’s also a surprisingly large choice of sparkles - perhaps in case your team wins and you want to celebrate - ranging from £22 for the prosecco to £140 for Dom Perignon vintage. They also offer the F1 official Champagne GH Mumm Brut for £7.95 a flute.
Of course, beer is a mainstay here and they have a good selection on draught including Fosters, John Smiths, Amstel, Strongbow, Kronenbourg and Guinness (£3.30-£3.50 a pint) in addition to several bottled beers in the fridge. A selection of soft drinks and teas and coffees are also available.
The Last Word
The main focus of any sports bar are the screens, and they’re excellent quality at the Sports Bar and Grill using the latest technology to show your team winning or losing (although you may not want to witness big losses with such sharp clarity). Worth popping into if you’re in the area and just have to know the score.