By Dave Faries
Editor 

Restaurant Review: Backaracks

In Out Back

 

Dave Faries

The sandwich abbreviated as UKJ is just one of the less than ordinary sports bar menu items at Backaracks.

One afternoon I stopped by Racks, a liquor store on the eastern fringe of Scottsbluff. More than a dozen cars and trucks were scattered around the lot, yet inside the clerk slouched behind the counter, all alone.

Everyone, he told me, was out back.

The cleverly titled Backaracks opened a few months ago, filling out the cavernous space with flat screens, memorabilia, tall stools, billiards and the other familiar sports bar accoutrements.

Like so many venues associated with the sports bar genre, the kitchen turns out burgers, wings, nachos and fries—in this part of the world meaning those deep fried slivers hacked from unfortunate bulls. But the menu also features homemade lasagna, aged ribeye and something called the UKJ.

“If you have the guts to order it, you won’t regret it,” the listing promises of a sandwich otherwise known as the Ugly Kid Joe.

OK—it’s simply a breakfast sandwich, consisting of bacon, a fried egg, cheese and cream cheese slapped on a chewy bagel. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the combination, really. A smoky, artisanal bacon might cut though the bulk. A runny, over-easy egg could add richness. Chopped jalapenos would cross swords with the heavy clump of Philly brand.

Well, they’re right—you won’t regret the order. Neither will you rave about it.

Yet Backaracks rises above the usual sports bar fare. Prime rib served on Friday and Saturday nights carries a sheer, bittersweet edge. Their kitchen constructs lasagna with smooth ricotta. Berkshire pork formed into patties and slathered in chili make for a satisfying white meat burger, although the melted cheese serves as little more than an aimless distraction.

There are also some neat swerves from the norm. In place of the pre-frozen French fry turned into a flaccid wand when dumped into hot oil, Backaracks serves wafers of golden brown crisps, dusted sparsely with salt. On their own these “Natural Fry Chips” are the perfect accompaniment to playoff football. With a ramekin of French onion dip, they become a nostalgic throwback to the days when shag carpeting, America’s Team and Ruffles served as Sunday centerpieces.

While waiting for my order to arrive, a “Rack of Nachos” passed by, perched on the waitress’ shoulder. From what I could see, the pile struggled under tomatoes, onions, meat, queso and most likely everything else in the kitchen.

Pretty, but I wouldn’t want to be around when the thing congealed.

Chicken wings come in traditional or boneless form, rolled by hand in your choice of glaze. I favored the “Tangy Gold,” a sweet-sharp vinegar sauce laced delicately with spicy heat.

For the most part, Backaracks is a sports bar that in basketball parlance plays far above the rim.

 

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