Jax Grill at GameWorks
One Levee Way
Newport on the Levee
Located inside GameWorks on the Riverwalk level of Newport on the Levee, Jax Grill offers standard pub grub and an up close view of the gaming masses. As one would expect from a restaurant attached to gigantic arcade with over 200 games and attractions, the place is noisy. It’s a bit quieter in the "patio" area, which is a cordoned-off area of the Levee walkway. The patio is a great place for people watching, as there is an almost constant parade strolling between GameWorks and the AMC Movie ticket booths on the weekends.
In all honesty, this really isn’t my kind of place. I’m not much of a gamer – my husband and I prefer downloading the cheat codes for Guitar Hero/Rock Band and just messing around with it on the "easy" setting, for instance – and although we love playing pinball I think $2 for five balls is highway robbery. Add to that our childless status, and we are obviously not the target demographic for GameWorks. We probably would have never even gone there, but decided to give them a try before heading on up the stairs to a show at FunnyBone Comedy Club. We’ve never had good luck with the food at FunnyBone and didn’t want to risk it again.
The restaurant has a couple of vegetarian entrées on the menu: there’s spinach and ricotta ravioli in a creamy alfredo, pasta with pomodoro sauce, and a couple of pizza options. Let me just say that I’m totally spoiled on Pompilio’s Italian dishes so I wasn’t about to go there with GameWorks, and I wasn’t really in a pizza mood. Instead I opted for a side salad and the Xtreme Nachos appetizer, which was decent. They make theirs with shredded cheese and the usual diced tomato, shredded lettuce, black olives, black beans, enchilada sauce and jalapenos. It comes with healthy dollops of sour cream and guacamole too. As I expected, the guacamole was some sort of prepackaged stuff that tasted ok but was not a patch on homemade. Nachos as a meal are fairly ho-hum, but they remain an old stand-by for me because very rarely does a restaurant get nachos wrong (Cock & Bull, I’m looking at you).
Other vegetarian appetizers on the menu are fairly bland quesadillas, deep fried mozzarella cheese sticks, and a cheesy spinach-artichoke dip accompanied by yet more nachos. Exciting, I know, but this place isn’t exactly fine dining. To be fair, the Xtreme Nacho plate is pretty darned big and I couldn’t finish it, but I had a hard time figuring out how something that cheap and basic could cost nearly $10. I guess the restaurant is banking on the "captive audience" notion that gamers would rather eat there than leave the facility in search of food elsewhere. The food is so-so, but honestly we weren’t expecting it to be anything great and our server was competent, friendly and attentive without hovering, which somewhat raised the marks of the restaurant.
One thing we were not expecting though was seeing a group of young men treated rather rudely by Levee security. Just after we were seated they were shown to table nearby, and as far as my husband and I could tell, had done nothing wrong. They weren’t being loud and obnoxious, weren’t taking up space needlessly - they were all enjoying burgers, fries and sodas – and they weren’t acting up or causing trouble. I’m not saying that perhaps they hadn’t done something to raise the ire of security earlier, but they certainly hadn’t done anything in the restaurant, yet the restaurant staff and manager stood by and watched security hassle them. My husband and I both felt the guys were being unfairly profiled, but who can say. It was, however, the abiding memory of our visit to Jax Grill.