5/23/2013 - You can still find sports on the TVs and billiards in the back room, but the food that had been served at Jillian’s is nothing like what’s on the menu at the World Sports Grille.
The switchover from Jillian’s to the World Sports Grille officially took place on May 15, but the new food and drink offerings had been on the menu for a couple of weeks prior to that.
“I think what people have historically recognized Jillian’s as is just your typical bar fare,” said WSG event sales manager Wendy Colby Fisher. “But with this new menu, about 90 percent of it is made from scratch, using as much as we possibly can of local ingredients. We have burgers and pizzas, but we also have things on the menu like maple glazed scallops, which people would not associate with a sports pub. So we’re really going for that gastro pub type feel with a really good beverage and spirits selection paired with an awesome, made-from-scratch menu.”
The drink selection has expanded, with 75 new bottles of bourbons, whiskeys and scotches, according to Colby Fisher. There is also a large selection of craft beers.
“We have a wide variety of beers from stouts to porters to Belgian wheat beers,” said bar manager Keith Hammond. “We brought in some from one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head [from Delaware]. They have different and interesting beers. They put coriander and all kinds of things in beers that you wouldn’t normally think of, and that’s going to help us pair them with foods. We brought a lot of bigger bottles in for groups that want to try a beer. Everybody can grab a glass and share it. We’re trying to find things that you can’t just go anywhere and get.”
The way the beers are served is also important, Hammond said.
“Certain beers, like a stout, you wouldn’t want it at 30 degrees. But most people don’t know that. It’s served best at 50 to 55 degrees. That’s how you get all the flavor notes. That’s the best way to taste it,” Hammond said. “When we offer these to the guests we say, ‘This is typically served this way but we can serve it chilled if you prefer.’ We serve them in proper glasses so you can taste everything the right way. Certain beers are better in a nice, wide-open glass so that the air can get in. Craft beer is a lot like wine and should be treated like wine. Some things are best in a pint or a goblet or a wine glass.”
Pairing the beverages with menu items was also something that chef Patrick Ogle kept in mind when designing the menu, according to Colby Fisher. Many of the dishes have beer or other spirits infused in them, such as the beer and cheese bisque (made with Pig’s Ear Brown Ale from Woodstock Brewery in North Woodstock), the fish and chips (made with Blue Moon Ale), Guinness bratwurst and maple glazed scallops (with maple whiskey glaze).
World Sports Grille will also begin hosting special brewery pairing events starting on Thursday, June 27, with Sam Adams. Colby Fisher said that she tried one of these events in the fall with Woodstock Brewery and the reaction was very positive. She said these events would be smaller, likely for 40 people, and feature special menu items developed for the event and to complement the brewer’s selections.
Colby Fisher said that WSG has hired a pastry chef with the hopes of growing the variety of sweets that will be offered for dessert, which right now includes cheesecake and pie.
The Manchester location of World Sports Grille is one of two in the nation; the other is in Seattle. In addition to the regular hours, WSG will be open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays as of Monday, May 20.
The arcade games have been removed, but Colby Fisher said that the billiard tables have been completely redone to tournament level standards, a new darts area was installed, and there’s a new shuffleboard table as well.
“We are staying true to our core that we are a sports bar. But everything else, we’ve elevated to make it affordable and comfortable for people to come down and try these things,” Colby Fisher said. “Historically at Jillian’s, food wasn’t the thing and guest experience wasn’t the thing. Now I want it to be the thing.”