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Amelia Islander

Halftime Sports Bar & Grill

May 06, 2014 01:52AM
Bretta and Jon Walker purchased Halftime Sports Bar & Grill on South Eighth Street in 2011. Jon had always wanted to own his own bar, and it didn’t hurt that he and Bretta have over fifty years combined experience in the hospitality industry. “We loved the bar and we loved the space,” says Jon. “We just tweaked it to make it our own.” They added their own touches and some new recipes with the help of their chef, Joe Riley, and now they’re serving up great pub food and really getting their game on.

I stopped into Halftime on a weeknight, and the place was getting busy. There’s always something going on at the Walkers’ cozy tavern—trivia, sports, lots of friendly conversation— and tonight was no exception. I was there to try some of Halftime’s specialty craft beers and sample some tasty pub grub. Bretta started me off with Orange Blossom Pilsner, a light and tasty beer on tap, straight from the Florida heartland. Jon then brought me a cup of their homemade chili, hot and spicy, topped with cheddar cheese and raw onions, served with some grilled flatbread. He and Bretta are great at pairing beer with food, so I sampled Engine 15 Nut Sack Brown Ale, which was perfect with the chili.

I consider myself a wing aficionado, so Jon suggested I try two varieties, Tri-Pepper and Honey Garlic. The Tri-Pepper was good and spicy, a combination of habanero, jalapeno, and serrano peppers. Ranch and bleu cheese dressings helped tame the heat. Honey Garlic Wings were sweet and garlicky, and a handful of celery made a great munchie. Halftime cooks their wings from scratch, no breading, the way a wing should be prepared. They were served with Fat Tire amber ale, loaded with toasty, malt flavors.

The Walkers, along with Riley, enjoy coming up with signature dishes, and their most popular is Pulled Pork Cheese Fries. What perfect bar food this is! A huge pile of French fries, dripping with nacho cheese, cheddar jack, Billy Bob’s pulled pork, and scallions. The pork was tender and juicy, a little smoky, the cheese was gooey, and the fries crispy.

Halftime has become popular for their special tacos, and Chef Joe cooked me up a Taco Trifecta, while Jon poured me a brew to taste with each taco. The first taco was filled with fresh blackened Mahi Mahi with lettuce, pico de gallo, and spicy sauce on a grilled flour tortilla. This was served with Magic Hat #9 beer. The second taco was local shrimp with lettuce, lime cream sauce, tri-color peppers, and cilantro, served with Curious Traveler beer. The third taco was filled with grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle ranch. That was served with 400# Monkey beer. What a fantastic idea, to pair three beers with three tacos! Each taco and brew was so different, yet all were so tasty and original.

Finally, Bretta wooed me with Funnel Cake Fries, served with raspberry sauce and powdered sugar, served with her own brilliant creation, Kenwood Prosecco mixed with Stiegal Radler Beer, a grapefruit-flavored German beer. I would compare this drink to a mimosa, except much better! Halftime serves up over forty varieties of craft beer, with new brands available every week. Their food is fresh and delicious. It’s a great place to visit for lunch or dinner any day of the week, except Tuesdays when they are closed. For more information, call Halftime at (904) 321-0303 or visit www.halftimeameliaisland.com.