Driving on the Mass Pike (I-90), you can't miss the Sports Depot, a converted train station that sits at the intersection of Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue. the place. Years ago, it was known as Allston Depot, serving steaks and pub grub. After a long stint as the Sports Depot, the joint reinvented itself as Captain Fishbones, a seafood restaurant. There's nothing wrong with seafood, but if you're going to switch concepts, why move away from the sports bar emphasis during the greatest combined run of the Red Sox and Patriots? Common sense eventually prevailed, so they're now the Sports Depot again.
Over the 2006 Thanksgiving weekend, my wife and I checked out the Sports Depot to catch a 4:00 Patriots-Bears game. It was my first visit to the place since the Allston Depot days, and I was awed by the sheer number of TVs. I counted more than thirty as we walked in, and discovered several more after getting settled. The bar has TVs all around it facing out, and each of those has another TV behind it facing in for the benefit of those sitting on stools. The place was packed, with every table and every stool occupied and a large standing crowd around the bar. A lot of sports bars like to show off interesting memorabilia, but not the Sports Depot. Here, it's all about the TVs, with a sound system that rivals major theaters. Trust me, you'll have no problem seeing and hearing the game action, although the out-of-town games are limited.
Now, on to the food. We shared an order of Buffalo tenders and they were pretty good, with the signature Buffalo flavor that's getting harder and harder to find for some strange reason. On the downside, the outsides were a little soggy and the portion was rather small, but they were good.
The Sport Depot menu has a wide array of burgers, Mexican dishes, salads and barbecue. Ribs include St Louis and babybacks, available wet or dry. They also have chicken, pulled pork (sandwich only) and brisket.
The only BBQ combo plate is ribs and chicken, so that's what I got, with the dry St Louis ribs. The chicken was bright red, like something out of a supermarket rotisserie. The skin was soggy, but the insides were pretty juicy and tender. The flavor was mild and pleasant enough, but there was no smoke. The ribs were massive and surprisingly appetizing, with a lot of rub and good meat retraction exposing the bones. I looked at the meat after I cut a rib off the rack and saw no pink. The ribs were very juicy and, like the chicken, had a decent enough flavor, but this wasn't what I call barbecue. The crust, also a little soggy, tasted like Shake and Bake for pork. Bright red sauce on the side tasted like a slightly doctored-up ketchup. Cold cole slaw was the supermarket variety. The oddly shaped piece of cornbread was stiff. My wife's burger was decent.
Service was a little slow but I chalk that up to the timing of the game, with a lot of orders probably going in before we arrived.
The Sports Depot has a small parking lot in front and a larger lot less than a block away.
The bottom line: I wouldn't call the food authentic barbecue and I wouldn't call it good, but it's decent enough given the Depot's other attributes. The Sports Depot definitely serves a purpose, and I'll go back again, but probably just for drinks.