Last time I was at Blue 22 Bar & Grille in Quincy Center I noticed that they had homemade Asian potsticker style dumplings. I did not get them that night but promised that I would be back.
So, last Thursday, we made the return trip to the funky little sports bar to have a closer look. We were not just looking for the dumplings or for their collection of rubber duckies on the wall, but to discover what the place was all about.
Blue 22 is relatively small for a restaurant, seating about 80 patrons at full capacity though it could probably hold twice that during a crowded bar night, as we were led to believe happens from time to time. They have a square bar that dominates their floor and nine large Vizio flat screen televisions that circle the restaurant along with banners of the four major Boston sports teams each listing the championship years of each squad.
The highlight of the bar are the rubber ducks.
The ducks are not something that was planned. They are brought in by regulars and just showed up day (according to various sources) during Christmas time one year and took up permanent residence. They are often stolen only to be replaced with more. Au said the ducks stem from the name of the restaurant, 22, which in poker parlance is the equivalent of a pair of twos or “ducks.”
“We definitely have a following,” Au said of the contributions, which includes a signed box of Flutie Flakes that sits next to the ducks, “people like to interact with the owners.”
The crowd was a fair mix between younger students and older professionals, a variety that one of the owners, Peter Au, said is fairly common.
“We get a good range of people,” Au said. “It is mostly a young professional crowd in their 20s and 30s. It ranges depending on the day.”
The bar and the menu at Blue 22 do not try to dazzle, preferring to stay within in the realm of pub grub “with an Asian flair,” Au said. The six beers on tap are what you might find at any sports bar in the city: Guinness, Bud Light, Harpoon IPA, Blue Moon, Sam Adams Lager and Sam Summer. Serviceable but not exactly inspiring.
I felt the same way about the dumplings, pan fried with a ginger ponzu dipping sauce. The scallion garnish was a looked a little old and wilted, a sign that they have spent too much time in a ninth pan in the kitchen. They were fried just about right but the insides were not set up quite as tight as I like in my dumplings, more mushy than chewy.
Admittedly, I need to spend more time with their menu to give a full evaluation, but my inkling is that the dumplings do not fall far from the tree.
A spectacular beer list and stunning menu are not necessary for Blue 22. They are sports bar and they are having fun. Through the week they have theme nights, from Trivia Wednesday, Karaoke Thursday, bands and DJs during the weekend and a rumored poker night (though currently on hold, according to Au) on Sunday. They try to mix it up as “we don’t want to get locked into anything,” Au said. Board games such as Scattergories and Boggle line the walls in case any patrons want to unleash their competitive juices.
“It’s a fun place to be,” Au said. “It’s a hang out spot for us and our friends.”
Mama Duck, with her cute little hat, is a testament to that. Next time I come back to Quincy Center I will make sure that I bring her a companion.