Photo: Peter Ranvestel
On paper, a description of Three Aces paints the place as a bit schizophrenic, but somehow it works in practice.
I’d always assumed it was a straight-up biker/rock ‘n roll bar, because of the name and Ace of Spades iconography. Inside it’s dark and a little bit stuffy in the way a good rock bar should be. There’s a single pool table stuffed into a basement-looking side room covered in dark wood, damask wallpaper and thrift-store reject wall hangings. No jukebox. Seems like a typical rocker bar, not unlike Delilah’s. A wall of sliding windows opens to a large, well lit patio. Step outside to people laughing and eating, and you’ll notice the food.
It’s actual food created by an actual chef (Matt Troost). Pizzette served on slices of tree trunk. Home made bolognese sauce. Cheese and Charcuterie plates. Grilled scallops. At one table, a classy couple eating farm-to-table salads and burgers. At another table, a trio of leather-clad bikers downing cans of PBR. Inside, a DJ spins classic funk and soul while a handful of people sit at the bar.
At the outset, they pushed burgers as their signature menu items, but have since expanded their menu, offering more than the typical Taylor Street pasta and meatballs and always trying to change things up. They strive to be both a respected restaurant but also a fun bar, without the prices that either would command on Randolph Street. I’m told that the menu surprises most first time patrons, and possibly intimidates others from ever even stopping by. But Three Aces would like to let you know that it shouldn’t.
The take away from my visit is that Three Aces is simply the place it wants to be, not what others want it to be. It’s a place open to all types, so it has something for each of them. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy it, but if you are, you still will. Roll up on a chopped and bobbed panhead, tattoos up both arms and onto your neck, and no one will bat an eye when you order a pea tendril salad and glass of zinfandel. And the place won BaconFest two years in a row, so they must be doing something right.