Situated in the busy area of King Street East, Serve Ping Pong is a space with 10,000 sq. ft. of entertainment and good eats. What once used to be the Hamilton Spectator Building, they have transformed the desolate space into a modern lounge fully equipped with brand spanking new ping pong tables, an eating area, a private room, and a beautiful bar. The hardwood floors, wooden pillars, decorative ceilings, and brick walls transport you back to simpler times. Once you step in, you’d be amazed at the amount of open space. It’s perfect for large parties and functions, plus it’s at a convenient location. The space is divided into dine/play and dine/drink. If you’re not interested in the intense sport of table tennis, their menu is worth checking out. Instead of going to the usual route and serving typical lounge and bar snacks, they’ve stepped it up with some creative effort!
We started with a ginormous charcuterie platter that consisted of toast, 2 types of mustard, candied bacon, red chili n’duja, red chili calabrese salumi, prosciutto, venetian coppa, wood smoked speck ini, casalingo salumi, cacciatore, and pancetta. Ridiculously amazing or what? This platter was a combination of the 3 charcuterie boards on the menu. It was quite an impressive start to our meal! I would order ALL of these beautiful cured meats again!
Next came the deep fried vegetarian appetizers and shareables. There were fried curry spring rolls, fried pickles, and fried arancini balls. The crunchy crusts of these items were inconsistent and needed work. The vegetable spring rolls were interesting back lacked salt, same with the arancini balls. Although the tomato dip gave it a slight flavour boost, it wasn’t that exciting. The deep fried pickle was my favourite out of the three. It came with a dill mayo dip that made it even better!
Anticipation grew as we patiently waited on the next courses, then the flatbreads landed. We tasted 3 out of the 7 flatbreads on the menu: G.A.S.P. ($12), Three Little Pigs ($14), and the Cardiologist Special ($16). The crusts were perfectly thin but dusted with way too much flour. Firstly, G.A.S.P. Roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, and mozzarella. The name is an acronym of the ingredients, pretty easy to remember! Another vegetarian pizza that surprised me. From our tasting at Knead Pizza, I mentioned that their Wild Mushroom pizza convinced me to be more open-minded about vegetarian food because it was just phenomenal. This time, the G.A.S.P. just reinforced it. The combination was beautiful and it screamed Italian (my fave). The artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes were tender, flavourful, and went hand-in-hand with everything else. It was an outstanding flatbread compare to the oter two, even though it was missing my favourite ingredient, MEAT. The Three Little Pis flatbread was a party in my mouth. Topped with their whisky candied bacon, pulled pork, mango habanero BBQ sauce, white cheddar, scallions, and crispy onions, the flavours started popping as I started chewing. The smoky and sweet flavours int this combination were well-balanced and awesomely complemented. Adding the candied bacon was definitely a good choice. Lastly, the Cardiologist Special consisted of pepperoni, red peppers, asalingo salumi, dry cured coppa, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. I was ecstatic that they added some cured meats from the charcuterie board but the pepperoni overpowered the delicate and thin slices. My tongue wasn’t too excited about this combination.
I was feeling stuffed at this point and I wasn’t sure what was coming next. I was hoping we’d be slowing down by now and finishing with dessert. Nope, I was wrong, of course. Three platters of sliders came out and I was slightly stunned. There’s no way I was going to finish three sliders. I could probably fit in a bite from each, at most.
The sliders stood tall and they looked really cute. The Fish & Chip slider was my favourite. Rickards Red battered sole, a few pieces of fries, spicy remoulade, and lettuce sat high between mini grilled buns with a skewer down the middle to secure it in place. The fish was moist with a fresh zing of lemon juice, the batter was nice and crispy, and the fries were a playful touch. I loved the lightness, the textures, and the flavours of this one! The Ultimate Serve Slider had a juicy and tasty beef patty with candied bacon (can’t get enough of this), aged white cheddar, roasted tomatoes, a thick onion ring, and Serve sauce. Everything tasted just right. Lastly, the Hogtown slider was just alright. The slider was paired with golden mango BBQ, creamy slaw, crispy onions, and sandwiched between sweet rolls. I guess it’s on the menu for those who still enjoy some good ole comfort food. Next time I’m here, I’m going for the Nashville Hot Chicken slider, sounds delicious!
Finally, we were at the end of our tasting. The last item to come out was the Bucket of Balls; house made old fashioned donut holes with an espresso cream dunk. They were interestingly wonky and formed bubbly shapes that weren’t exactly spheres. The texture is comparable to Tim Horton’s Old Fashion Plain timbit; dense, moist, and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. The espresso cream gave it more moisture and made it even better.
Of course throughout our dinner we played some ping pong to make room for more food. Don’t be mistaken, this sport can get intense and really competitive! But you’re also there to have fun. If you’re not big into ping pong, maybe you’d enjoy gathering the balls. They have a tool to efficiently pick up run-away ping pong balls! I’m not sure if the staff are in-charge of that task but I had a lot of fun walking around scooping up balls.
I’m so excited that Serve Ping Pong is in this city, it’s another place for relaxing entertainment. What’s even better is that they have creative shareables and delicious comfort food. Overall, I love their concept of combining ping pong and good food and drinks in a playful, friendly, and casual environment. Five years ago, it was all about the board-game cafes, now Serve Ping Pong has set the bar for new forms of entertainment and group activities.
This was a complimentary meal from Serve Ping Pong, opinions expressed are my own.