Complex food worth paddling for
Unique Asian cuisine in a table tennis lounge
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 00:10
Ace was opened just a few months ago by the guys that brought you Steuben’s and Vesta’s Dipping Grill. It has the delicious menu you’ve come to expect from the talented restauranteurs, but also a surprise: table tennis.
Ace, located at 17th and Pennsylvania right by Steuben’s, is advertised as a restaurant, bar, and table tennis lounge. It’s a winning combination with American-style Asian dishes, a lavish and eccentric drink menu, and an all-too-obvious passion for the indoor leisure sport.
The atmosphere at Ace is fun. The staff is friendly and energetic. The music is modern with a beat. Everyone there is looking for a good time.
Exposed brick and wire, metal accents, and dim lighting from vintage bulbs and neon signs give an industrial feel. The ceilings are tall and the areas spacious—it really feels like a lounge.
If you’re there for just table tennis, you can have drinks and food in the playing areas, just not on the tables themselves. However, it makes for a better and more laid-back experience if you enjoy your meal in a booth first, and then move on to your paddlin’.
The food at Ace is a delicious adventure. Ace serves the food in a style fit for sharing, so be sure that you and your buddies collaborate on what to get. If you have trouble deciding—and the menu can be a bit daunting at first—the waiter gives a thorough rundown of the best sauces and dish combinations.
For starters, the celery salad ($3) coupled with a braised short rib bao bun ($4) make for a winning combination. The celery salad is a plate of, you guessed it, chopped celery—but it’s tangy and crunchy and clean. It’s simple and refreshing. The bao bun is warm and soft, filled with succulent meat that’s well-seasoned.
The chive and pork dim sum ($4) is composed of four dumplings. It comes with a spicy mustard seed spread, and a hearty smearing of the on-table black bean sauce does them well. The dumplings aren’t too big, but what they lack in size they make up for in spicy and complex flavors.
The main dishes are very large, noodle-based dishes and soups. The chow fun ($12) starts with a base of long, thick noodles in a tangy sauce. Large pieces of chicken fill the bowl. Get a side of warm, thin scallion crepes ($3) to fill with the noodles and chicken and some of the in-house chili sauce for a personal burrito.
Ace has a variety of interesting dishes just like these, all of them full of flavor, and each a unique experience in its own right. The drink menu is also extensive, featuring numerous creative cocktails and mixed drinks, as well as in-house sodas and juices.
But you don’t visit Ace just for the food.
Playing table tennis will set you back $10-$15 per hour, but it’s a worthwhile way to spend your evening. Ace-adorned balls litter the floor of the playing room. Large signs listing the house rules and general playing guidelines can be found at the end of the room—this is for fun, but it’s also a serious sport.
Ace is more than a restaurant—it’s an experience. It isn’t just the unique menu, or the eccentric bar selection, nor is it the fact that it has table tennis in an edgy lounge atmosphere. It’s the combination of all these things that make Ace a great place to spend your night.