Entertainment & Events
“True North” provides a taste of PB in North Park
True North is a place for those with conviction. It stands boldly in North Park, with its marble and granite, expensively finished wood, plasma screens defiantly blaring sporting events in the highest of definition (sporting events in North Park?) and demands you to make a choice. Are you a dyed-in-the-Converse, North Park-indie hip kid who collects vinyl records and only watches television for its “ironic” value? Or are you an unabashed, over-tanned and over-fragranced club rat who’s looking for a party? Because at True North, there’s no straddling the fence.
At least, not after 9:00 p.m., anyway. Before then, True North is an open, airy, welcoming bar and restaurant, with a streetside patio that beckons you to come on in, leave work early and have a beer or two. The aroma of its well-crafted pub fare lures you in, and your nose doesn’t lie: The rumors are true, and I’m happy to report that True North does indeed share a kitchen with the sublimely delicious next-door restaurant Urban Solace (which the Entertainer recently reviewed). This translates to the appearance of the single best feature at True North, something that should have been invented a thousand years ago along with the wheel and fire: I’m talking, of course, about the gourmet tater tot.
But what of the bar itself? They have an impeccable beer selection, for starters. It’s not every day you come across a bar that offers Dogfish Head and Leinenkeugel’s alongside the “frost-brewed” atrocity known as “mass-market yellow fizzy beer I refuse to give publicity in this space.” There’s a chalkboard at the entrance that announces the new weekly beer offerings, and on my visits, there’s usually one or two that I’ve never actually tried – no small feat, and much appreciated. They also boast two fully loaded bars, and the mixed drinks are poured skillfully and generously, even after this place transforms Optimus Prime-like at 9:00 in a full-blown P.B.-style party.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The staff here is exceedingly friendly. Bouncers are kind and respectful and call you by name after they’ve read it off of your ID, which earns them literacy points as well as courtesy points. The waitresses are genuinely nice and helpful, will bring you a drink without spilling it, and will quickly bring you more if you ask for them. They are dressed in moderately fetching uniforms and are attractive, but not in the kind of way that will make your significant other watch your eyes and sigh heavily and mouth vulgarities under their breath. And they all possess an attitude that seems – somewhat anachronistically – local. These chicks have tattoos or piercings or dyed hair, or at lease two out of the three.
It’s nice. Reminds you where you are; or at least, where your car is parked.
The traits that allow True North to technically call itself a sports bar: First, the pool tables. There are two of them. There’s plenty of space to move around and play (before the inebriated dancing begins, of course). The tables accept dollar bills. The felt is new and red and still playable, and nobody has spilled a pitcher of beer on them yet (editor’s note: the Entertainer can make no guarantees this is still the case).
And then, there are the aforementioned plasma screens. There are twenty-freaking-one of them. And they are gorgeous. They spread all around you, above the bar in an oeuvre of color and sound, along the rustic, brick-red walls, and across to the mural at the far end of the space, slowly massaging your consciousness numb until your are resplendent in an ESPN-addled daze. I mean, these televisions could actually make you care about soccer.
No. No television could do that. Disregard.
But now, let’s all synchronize our Swatches to that magical hour of 9:00 pm, when Ben Linus turns the underground frozen wheel or Doc Brown pushes the DeLorean to 56 MPH and True North turns into something…else.
It’s as if the bar suddenly becomes un-stuck from 30th and University, disappears for a moment, then suddenly reappears somewhere on the corner of Garnet and, oh, I don’t know, hell. Everyone around you is transformed before your eyes, from living, sentient beings into tequila-soaked coeds. And not that I don’t like my coeds soaked in tequila – that’s usually how you’d order them, after all – it’s just that these particular kids seem to revel in their revelry, brandishing their youth and gloss and penchant for self-destruction in a way that seems to both pay tribute and sneeringly insult the very neighborhood which invented such virtues for San Diego. These are kids who are so impressed with themselves that they actually found this bar in North Park, they can scarcely contain it. And they don’t.
I’ll give credit to True North. The bar staff retains its level of professionalism and service during this metamorphosis, and security doesn’t hesitate to remove the douchebags when the douchebaggery gets blatant. But unless they were to remove 85 percent of the bar during this “club mode”, the pervasive feeling of the crowd is something you, gentle reader, are probably going to want to be pretty drunk to be able to digest.
But sometimes, of course, you will be that drunk. And when you are, you will find surprisingly ample room to dance, and not the worst DJ’s in the world to dance to. And you will want to dance with one of the PB-bots, and you’ll be glad you did, because PB-bots are good at dancing.
And then you will collapse on the floor from your brain exploding, because of the sheer volume of the music. Some context: Two months ago, I watched an F-22 Raptor take off … from the runway … standing 800 feet away. And that was nothing compared to the blaring, blasting nonsense that is True North’s sound system.
I guarantee that it will literally will make your ears hurt, and if I’m wrong, then I will gladly buy you a beer at True North.