Punch Bowl Social opens Saturday with serious eats and drinks (and lots of games)

Let the boozy games begin.

Let the boozy games begin. Photo courtesy of Punch Bowl Social Facebook Page

Never mind that the new St. Louis Park entertainment concept has 24,000 square feet of bowling alleys, ping pong, Foosball tables imported from Italy, vintage video games, private karaoke, giant wall Scrabble and three bars. It’s the diner they want you to remember.

Punch Bowl Social St. Louis Park, the eighth U.S. opening for the concept in four years, has worked hard to let you know they are not an adult Chuck E. Cheese's.

Come to think of it, Punch Bowl Social wants to remind you at every bend of what they’re not. They’re not a sports bar, they’re not a club (though they do have a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sunday brunch, but no dance floor). They’re not going to inundate you with TV screens (though don’t worry, they will happily turn on the game).

They are full of “Dirty Modern” stylings, which they describe as an amalgam of “Victorian, Industrial, Mid-century Modern, and Mountain Lodge" design elements. But they are definitely not a dive, dirty modern or no. 

The menu is described as a Southern-style diner with a healthy bent. It’s a refreshingly tight and focused list, only 20 or so items, a rarity in a place with such ambitious customer reach.

Find seared crispy-skin trout over black-eyed pea succotash and superfood grain bowls -- surprising appearances on a menu that could just as easily read like a platitude for all people. More rich preparations include an Alabama chicken sandwich on a biscuit and a grass-fed hormone-free meatloaf. The culinary team says they’re keeping a keen eye on avoiding the “industrialization of food.”

Craft cocktails are in full effect, including their namesake, the boozy punch bowl in single serving, or four or eight servings, for $8, $32, and $64, respectively.  This cute bearded bartender named Patrick will make it for you. 

And while the space can accommodate up to 971 eaters, drinkers, and gamers, there are plenty of little alcoves and thoughtful spaces for lounging, hiding out, and even “glamping” under a lighted tent in Adirondack chairs.

Founder and CEO Robert Thompson began as a serious restaurateur with a critically acclaimed French brasserie in Denver. “It was a spectacular ode to Parisian Brasserie cuisine, and it lost money every day.” He opened more “boutiquey” restaurants, and he also happened to own some pool halls. It was when he took a notion to mash them up that he hit upon what appears to be a gold mine.

Celebrity chef partner Hugh Acheson, of Top Chef fame, joined the team six months ago to edge the place back to its roots as a food-first sort of establishment.

Want in? Punch Bowl Social opens to the general public in all of its foodie, boozy glory on Saturday, November 12 at 9 p.m.  

Or go VIP style, by purchasing a $10 ticket and get into the Grand Opening party on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Purchase tickets here. 

1691 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park