"Skin to win" was the motto on Buster's infamous costume days when my sister worked there during our college years, and not much has changed. In several of the photo collages still hanging on the walls, pictures of her barely dressed would no doubt make our father cringe and will hopefully, one day, give her kids a good laugh. Back then, I ate at Buster's regularly and loved the food. Those days were many moons ago, and we've both grown up. Apparently, my tastebuds have grown up, too.
I have yet to eat at a joint billing itself as a sports bar where the food is outstanding. It is what it is: basic grub meant to soak up the beer. And usually the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. Buster's rather successfully provides exactly that sort of average sports bar forgettable fare (forgettable, that is, until later that night when the grease-induced queasiness in your belly forces the memory to resurface).
We were a difficult group the night we showed up, large and ever-evolving as we lost and acquired new members throughout our stay, and our waitress, Miss Afton, gets a big fat "job well done" for keeping us in beer and in check. A starter of boneless wings ($6.99) was a melee of forks and fingers as, without small plates for each diner, we fought for chunks of almost overcooked chicken. Good thing we're a close group and hardly germ-o-phobic.
Part three (a round of 25-ounce domestic beers for under $3 being part one, and our starter being part two) was a mixed bag. A cup of beef noodle soup ($3.99) could have had a touch more flavor and a touch more heat on the temp. Famous South Philadelphia cheesesteak eatery Geno's (perhaps the only restaurant that's fed both myself and Justin Timberlake) would applaud the icky American cheese on Buster's Philly ($7.49), but would weep at the wimpy diced onions and peppers and paltry showing of roast beef. A better sandwich would beef up the beef, ease up on the 'shrooms, use Swiss, throw in the promised tomatoes and julienne the veggies. Phew. A side of "loaded" fries—melted cheese, green onions, bacon and sour cream—bested the Philly hands down, but the bacon could use an upgrade from the out-of-the-bag flaky version to the real deal cooked and chopped-in house. A smorgasbord of "so-so"-rated fried food ($9.99) featured real steak in the fingersteaks (however baffling it is to have to make that observation), specially requested hand-dipped chicken, unspectacular pre-dipped halibut and, of course, fries. The Buffalo-style breast of chicken sandwich ($7.99) was tender, but the bun was sadly overwhelmed by the combination of ranch dressing and hot sauce and subsequently disintegrated. The Bronco burger ($6.99) got a round of applause. "We call it a Bronco burger because it's #1," reads the menu, a statement that proved true when compared to every other dish on the table. Thick and topped with bacon, cheese and just enough barbecue sauce—meaning the bun refused to surrender—the Bronco was the envy of every diner at the table. Long after our leftovers had been cleared, another diner arrived and shortly thereafter, so did a heaping plate of nachos ($9.99). One look at that feast and I immediately made mental note: "Buster's does appetizers and burgers, not Philly sands."
Final score? Three to one. Giant cheap beers, a collection of TVs and a huge menu (which, by the way, offers a whopping selection of 18 burgers and 10 chicken sandwiches) make for three. An overall disappointing show in the entree category makes for one. And then there's an ambiguous point thrown in there depending on your personal preference: the "flash of panty point." Low tables, hiked up hems ... you do the math and decide how to adjust the score.
—Rachael Daigle's sister is way cooler than she is.