Review: Hideout is forgettable at best

Bowling Green’s newest bar, Hideout, opened two weeks ago in the space that previously held High Tops. The new manager, Matthew Ruth, hopes to bring college kids and the downtown crowd into the bar. “Bringing both crowds together is our ultimate goal,” Ruth said. “And providing cheap food at good prices.”

David Hormell

High Tops had a short, bright life before it fizzled out like a half-spent firecracker, closing its doors abruptly at the end of 2017.

Hideout – the dining experience formerly known as High Tops – seems like an intentionally subtle shift in branding, but it instead marks an unfortunate turn for the generic.

Bill Sullivan, director of Hideout’s food services, touted a list of ostensible changes to the facility in prior Herald coverage. Hideout kept High Tops’ dining arrangements and décor. Gone are the pools and drink menus. By all appearances, the area is largely unchanged.

Regarding food, Hideout outshines its predecessor. However, High Tops wasn’t a particularly hard act to upstage, as most of the focus was centered around drinks.

Hideout’s menu offers up conventional bar food – burgers, wings, American-style tacos. I didn’t get to try every item on the surprisingly vast menu.

I did try the fries, the exceedingly rich macaroni and cheese and the gentrified tacos. The generous serving of fries was tasty.

I would be remiss not to mention other staff members’ experiences. Herald reporter Noah Moore lauded the $1 burger special on Sundays. Marketing Manager Graham Goins said he’d recommend Hideout to a friend.

Hideout’s atmosphere constantly struggles from inconsistency.

During Hideout’s grand opening, local weather curiously played on five of the televisions.

Hideout played a continuous mix of Motown. Motown is a nice gesture towards a more family-friendly eating establishment, but Berry Gordy is a vegan, and I’m not sure he could order anything off Hideout’s menu.

I bought four or five drinks. Hideout never carded me, which is oddly flattering. I’m 22, but I have a baby face. Most people mistake me for a high school student (I’m not).

I ordered a couple of gin and tonics, which tasted like tonic water sans gin. I also ordered a common drink – Bird Dog Whiskey with Red Bull, what High Tops affectionately referred to as a Bowling Green Bomb.

“Do you mean a Vegas bomb?” My waitress seemed a bit incredulous at the request.

“Yes, that’s what I meant.”

After pretending to watch the local weather for ten minutes or so, she returned and set a Vegas Bomb on my table.

“Here’s your ‘Bowling Green Bomb,’” she said using air quotes. I’ve never felt attacked by air quotes before, but Hideout sets precedents.

On my second visit, the noise was near deafening. Conversation was an impossible and lofty prospect. There’s still no drink menu or desserts.

After finishing my meal, it took 30 minutes for my waiter to bring the check on a seemingly slow night.

This night is a bit different than my first visit. This time around, the soulfully sleek sound of Motown’s greatest hits is replaced by more trendy cotton candy sweet pop music. Halsey’s “New Americana” (alternatively titled, “Only 90s kids will remember this!”) plays in the background. Taylor Swift’s older material follows.

I’m suddenly nostalgic for a different time – before “Reputation” was released, when High Tops was the glimmer of good still in my life. Perhaps I’m overly harsh – Hideout is by no means bad. It’s forgettable – it isn’t somewhere I would go on my own volition.

There’s the widespread myth of Bowling Green holding the most restaurants per capita. It’s an unproven claim. But what’s true is Bowling Green’s sprawling selection of restaurants. There’s no shortage of options. Which begs the question: with all these options, what makes Hideout different?

Features reporter David Hormell can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow David on Twitter at @davidjhormell.