Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bowie Restaurant Project: (79) Penalty Box Cafe

Penalty Box Cafe, 3330 Northview Drive
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 1/10/2014
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

The trickiest places to find a time to review have been ones that aren't open for weekday lunches, my most frequent type of kid-free meal. I gather that the Penalty Box Cafe is mostly open when school is not, although a phone call a year or two ago didn't turn up any sort of set schedule.

The PBC is located inside the Bowie Ice Arena, so the main audience for the restaurant is skaters and their families. Bowie Ice Arena is itself located in Allen Pond Park, so it's also an option for parkgoers. Be warned that the seating is limited, and on our family visit (as parkgoers, not skaters) seemed mostly occupied by people who weren't eating.

There are three "combos" available, and I believe those are the main dining options: pizza, chicken tenders and a hot dog. The pizza was awful. I can't recommend ordering it. The chicken tenders were actually very tasty; I nabbed some from the kids. They were out of hot dog buns on the first visit, so I saved that for the return trip. The guy warned me that the hot dog was microwaved, which I thought might be OK. But it's a jumbo hot dog, which meant it heated unevenly. Not great.

You get the sort of service you might expect at a snack bar. Youth who clearly have no experience with or interest in the restaurant industry prepare and serve your food. They were uniformly super-nice, especially when my kids spilled most of the table of food. But you'd run into a bottleneck where it would take 10 minutes to get a soda refill.

The fries were good on both visits, but they were completely different styles.

Honestly, if this weren't a snack bar, it would vie for the lowest ratings I have offered. But it's what you should expect out of a snack bar, so that gets it a pass. Also, having a place to eat for patrons of both the Ice Arena and Allen Pond Park serves the city well, so two stars. (After sitting on this review for several days, I realized that the hot dog had left the roof of my mouth burned for several days, so I deducted a further half-star.)

Bowie Restaurant News

Five restaurants to go! Two fall into the "no weekday lunch" category, one is too nice to take the kids (or co-workers!) to, there's another snack bar I haven't figured out the hours on, and a newer restaurant that I'm waiting for a third visit to. The end is in sight!

It looks like Freestyle Fish 'n' Chicken. is done for. At least when I've been near there recently, they haven't been open, and it's been normal restaurant hours.

Other news...No progress since October on Anthony's Pizza. Little Caesar's is coming to Bowie Plaza. I doubt they'll have a dine-in option, which means I won't have to review it here.

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