A few months ago I wrote a review of Beef ’O’ Brady’s wings and talked about some of my memories hanging out at the Elkhart location in my single days.
I still remember the day when I was eating wings there and they asked me if I’d heard about the change that was to occur Jan. 1. I was terrified at first it was going to close. I’ve been through closings at my favorite bars in this area like Finnegan’s, Bennigans and Little Johns.
When they told me they were dropping the chain affiliation and changing the name to Sports Time Family Pub and Grill, I was a little skeptical — I had seen another favorite bar of mine, Gubi’s, change for the worse and eventually close.
But, as times have gone by, the changes at Sports Time have turned out to be for the better. The menu expanded and got more diverse. They rented the space next door and expanded the dining area. Most of the good things have remained, including the friendliness of the staff and the sports-centric, family-friendly atmosphere.
I’m not as big as a regular as I was back in the Beef ’O’ Brady days, but I still get in there from time to time. I’ve played many rounds of trivia there during the week and I’ve taken my family there plenty of times on Sundays. I’m also usually in on Fridays after work for a beer.
There are not a lot of newer family-friendly places around Elkhart that are easy to bring kids to eat, and also order some wings and a beer. Some older places consider themselves family-friendly, but the age of the building and the atmosphere inside tend to keep families away or from coming back. Other places give the impression of being a little too stuffy or too fancy to bring kids.
Most of what’s left are chain restaurants, so Sports Time is almost in a category all to itself — a local restaurant where you can order bar food and alcoholic beverages, eat in a newer and clean-looking environment, and comfortably dine alone at the bar, with a friend, or with the whole family in tow.
I like to think of the wings at Sports Time as my “go-to” wings. They follow almost to a tee the style of what Buffalo wings should be. They are large, deep fried without any breading, tossed in a Franks Hot Sauce, and then brought to the table in a basket still steaming hot.
I’ve found that different restaurants tend to put their variant on how the wings are served. There are different types of breading that could be put on them, different sauces that are created to emulate the traditional buffalo flavor, different ways of cooking the wing that can give different textures, or even different serving trays to that vary the sauce distribution from wing to wing.
These variations can all be very good, but sometimes you just want to eat the traditional buffalo wing. This is the perfect place to get that. They are just the right size to bite and burn. I put the hot sauce at a 2 out of 4 on the heat scale, where the extra-hot sauce is a 3.
Now, after saying all that about the traditional preparation, Sports Time does also have a new buffalo sauce they are serving that is house-made with scorpion peppers.
Even though the scorpion pepper is one of the hottest in the world, the sauce doesn’t retain the extreme heat. I would put it at a 3, somewhere between the hot and extra-hot.
It’s not on the menu, but they will be glad to serve it to you if you ask. It tastes similar to cayenne pepper-based sauces but with a less vinegary bite and heat that is not obvious with the first bite — but sneaks up on you a few seconds later. In my opinion, this should be their “buffalo” sauce, as it is more unique than the more common Frank’s-based sauce.
The cost of the wings are a little steep. The CPW is 100 cents, so I tend to order them on Sundays and Mondays, when you can get them for 60 cents a piece.
Going independent was really a good change for this corner restaurant on the plaza at C.R. 17 near the bypass. It still fills with people eating there, and the owners have been able to increase their involvement with the community. If you look at all the Beef ’O’ Brady’s that opened up in the mid 2000s near north Indiana, most of them are now closed — yet Sports Time still holds strong.
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