For the Buds, the Hunger Games started hours before we found ourselves right smack-dab in the middle of the Arena.
In fact, they pretty much began just after breakfast.
With nothing for protection save our forks and butter knives, we braced ourselves for whatever obstacle was to come out of the gate.
But ... the odds were ever in our favor.
The adversary, as it turns out, was a delectable meal, and we know exactly how to eliminate those - we've dealt with them before.
Yep! Our tasty lunches from the Downtown Arena in Cambridge never even stood a chance.
The restaurant /sports bar, located on Wheeling Ave. in the downtown section, boasts a clean and spacious interior with ample seating and large bar area. With numerous flat screen televisions broadcasting sporting events (even in the restroom) and a pair of pool tables, there are plenty of ways to keep occupied while dining and/or socializing.
The Arena's rather extensive menu offers much of the standard restaurant/bar fare as well as several items the Buds found to be quite unique.
Among the appetizer options are wings, hog wings (described as meaty bones covered with choice of sauce - unusual for sure), fries - fresh cut, battered, waffle and jalapeno, spinach and artichoke stuffed rangoon (hello!), sweet potato fries with caramel sauce and several other deep fried goodies.
Salad lovers will be pleased as there are several to choose from. Jumping out at the Buds were the Spicy Caribbean Chicken topped with red onion, roasted red peppers, seasoned chicken strips, mushrooms, black olives and Caribbean seasoning; and the Lean and Green Salad which features double chicken or steak on mixed greens with onion, black olives and an assortment of peppers.
Entrees include a variety of steaks and prime rib, mouth-watering pork chops, tilapia and made from scratch crab cakes. There are also pasta dishes including angel hair, penne and even lobster and egg ravioli.
Those looking for a sandwich or burger are going to have a heckuva time choosing. Sandwiches can be made in any of three sizes: 6 inch, 12 inch and wedge. Hoagies, clubs, reubens, sliders, specialty burgers and wraps - they're all on there!
As if that weren't already too much to choose from, the Downtown Arena also makes a huge variety of pizza with hand tossed crust and three sauces to choose from. Their specialty pizzas sound truly wonderful, especially the BBQ Pork Carnitas pizza topped with pulled pork, sweet smoked barbecue sauce, French fried onions and pineapple.
Finally, there are the house specialties, among them are calzones, strombolis, gyros, chimichangas and the gourmet grilled cheese. Geesh! Needless to say, it took us quite a few minutes to decide.
After learning that a "wedge" sandwich was made from a their pizza dough folded in half taco-style, Bud Em was sold. Ringing in at $7.99, the B.L.T. wedge was packed with smokey bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and just the right amount of mayo. The pizza crust bread was fresh and warm, making for one awesome sandwich!
Bud Shaunna ordered the single fillet serving of the southwest seasoned panko encrusted tilapia. The entree came with a salad and side dish for just under 10 bucks. The tilapia was fresh and flaky, and the breading was flavorful with a delightful crunch. Bud Shaunna couldn't resist the sweet potato fries on the side. Dipped in the warm caramel sauce, they were out of this world! Even Bud Em reached across the table numerous times for samples of these goodies. This meal was certainly a winner!
If you do happen to find yourself in The Arena, be glad! As long as you bring your appetite, you will have everything necessary to become a victor.
The Buds may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org