Dining Out: Main Event is a winner with casual excellence

Friendly, lively sports grill extends imaginative menu to second location

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Why: Main Event’s first location in downtown Vancouver has become a successful fixture of the Clark County dining scene. Having recently opened a second spot to serve the east side of Clark County, it delivers the same inventive food and level of excellent service diners have enjoyed at the downtown restaurant.

Main Event is a family friendly place where the focus is on food, service and sports entertainment.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is expansive and accommodating. Windows stretch the length of the restaurant and provide a view of the riverside landscape to the south. The floor space is tiered into two levels, which suits the emphasis on sports entertainment. Large-screen TVs, mounted every few feet around the perimeter and at the bar, ensure viewing from every table. I stopped counting at 20.

The vibe is lively, favorable to the social atmosphere. Intimate dining might be challenging during a full house.

What I tried: My dining companions and I sampled the steak tips, meatloaf muffin, BLT wedge salad, caprese sticks, the Main Event burger, the French dip sandwich, and chicken tortilla soup. We completed our meal with a brownie, the trio of cakes, and the housemade banana bread, which was served with cooked bananas and vanilla ice cream.

The steak tips were delicious. We all agreed they stood out from the rest of the items. About seven pieces of deliciously marinated steak pieces are grilled to perfection and served with a horseradish crème fraîche alongside for dipping. The meat was tender and juicy. I decided that two orders of the steak tips, all to myself, with a salad, would be the perfect meal.

Another standout item was the meatloaf muffin. It consisted of a simple ground beef mixture topped with piped mashed potatoes and drizzled with a spicy red sauce, which reminded me of Sriracha sauce and hinted of ketchup. The muffin was creative and appetizing.

Main Event’s BLT wedge salad has a creamier blue cheese dressing instead of a typical, mostly crumbled, topping. Also, drizzled generously over the top was a tangy balsamic glaze that made the salad an entirely different experience than expected.

Main Event’s signature burger is basted with Jäger glaze and topped with grilled onions, provolone cheese, and bacon. The burger is nothing short of gourmet caliber and a favorite of my dining companion.

The French dip sandwich was top-notch, the caprese sticks are an adventurous alternative to customary mozzarella sticks, and the chicken tortilla soup successfully incorporated more than just breast meat in a spicy broth — although the broth scarcely lasted to the last spoonful.

All of the desserts were scrumptious, but the rich, chocolatey brownie, served à la mode and drizzled with smooth caramel, was our favorite.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Any of the sliders sounded yummy, as did the molasses pulled pork sandwich. A pecan crusted mahi mahi and a blackened Cajun pasta are on the menu. The cranberry walnut salad would pair nicely with the wild-caught Pacific salmon. And for those who like a peanut butter burger, Main Event has one waiting for you.

Other observations: The wait-staff is attentive, friendly, and polite. They greet diners with a smile and enthusiasm.

The food portions are in line with the prices. With all that we tried, our ticket for three was $88.35.

Both locations are impressive, though the atmosphere at Main Event’s new restaurant is a world apart from its downtown location.

Cost: Menu items are comparable to other sports grills. Happy Hour appetizers start at $4 and top out at $9. On the regular menu they are $6 to $11. Dinner entrees range from $7 to $28. Desserts are $4 to $6.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday. Happy Hour is 3 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.

Telephone: 360-828-8583.

Where: 3200 S.E. 164th Ave., Suite 204, Vancouver. http://mesportsgrill.com

Health score: Main Event has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428. Main Event’s downtown location received a score of 17 on April 22.