King Arthur's Sword Turns a Spot in Baldwin Into an Entertainment Destination

IQ Escape's new South Hills escape rooms elevate Crafthouse Stage & Grill and Legacy Lanes.




photos courtesy iq escape
 

Suburban centers of entertainment are forever trying to get patrons to stick around all day.

On the simple end of this spectrum are sports bars that urges guests to watch a full day of football or March-Madness games (an interesting idea, but a very quick pathway to dropping $200 on wings and beer); the extreme end involves establishments, such as the bygone Latitude 360, which create a monolith of entertainment offerings under one unsustainable umbrella.

The sweet spot is hard to hit, here — it’s very difficult to offer a variety of theoretical fun under one roof without costs spiraling out of control and quality dropping. Yet, a multifaceted structure in Baldwin pretty well nails it.

And a pair of escape rooms are the difference-maker.

Tucked on a hill off of Curry Road, you’ll find the Crafthouse Stage & Grill, the Legacy Lanes bowling alley and the South Hills outpost of growing escape-room business IQ Escape. Separately, they’d all be fine; the former would be an above-average sports bar, the bowling alley would be a perfectly acceptable group of lanes and the escape rooms would be among the best of the local offerings (if a bit quicker than some of the more challenging games).

Together, though, you’ve got something, here.

Arrive on a Saturday or Sunday in the late afternoon. Rent some shoes and play a couple of games; you’re not that good at bowling (no one really is), so you’ll have a good time but not be compelled to keep at it for more than an hour or so. Have a round or two from the in-alley bar as you play.

Next, head to IQ Escape’s territory at the far end of the building. Two rooms are open right now: “The Pittsburgh Job,” a tongue-in-cheek mystery surrounding Andy Warhol; and “Excalibur: The Untold Story of King Arthur,” a beautifully presented medieval puzzler.

I’ve written about IQ Escape — which also boasts a satellite location in State College, Pa. — before, detailing a PM staff trip to their flagship last summer in After Dark and lauding their ambitious time-travel game in this year’s Best of the ’Burgh. The uniting theme among the outfit’s games is an inventiveness and narrative backstory that goes beyond the norm; while many similar businesses are more focused on the puzzles than the setting, IQ Escape wants to show off their inventive side.

That’s clearly present in “Excalibur,” the game I sampled. A massive round table sits at the center of the room, with crests and swords for each of the legendary knights hung on the walls. I won’t offer any spoilers, but the effects and secrets found within were immensely satisfying (although a few of the puzzles remained somewhat clunky; the game is relatively new, though, so that’s probably something that will be worked out through further playtesting).

After your victorious (or ignominious) emergence from the escape room, head to the grill for drinks and appetizers. A robust draft beer list accompanies a better-than-expected array of pub grub and burgers; someone in your party should get the nachos. There’s a busy schedule of live music and events here, in addition to the giant screen for your sports-related needs.

Those in your party with an appreciation for a cigar can linger a bit longer for a smoke and some bourbon in Crafthouse’s cigar room, as well. I can easily envision an outing with a large group here running from mid-day until closing time without any sense of fatigue; the urge to linger will not be forced, but rather quite natural in the face of a number of simple things done well.

And if you end up wielding a sword and wearing a crown at some point, so much the better.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Mt. Washington’s Bigham Tavern is the latest ‘Burgh eatery to host a film crew.
32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

As we honor the 2017 Pittsburghers of the year, take a look back at the previous honorees and their significant, unforgettable contributions to our city.
Wish a Steeler a Speedy Recovery in a Big Way

Wish a Steeler a Speedy Recovery in a Big Way

An oversized get-well-soon card for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is waiting for your signature Downtown.
Watch: Who is Faster on a Zamboni? Crosby or Malkin?

Watch: Who is Faster on a Zamboni? Crosby or Malkin?

Sid and Geno love to compete, especially against each other. This time, the future Hall-of-Famers climbed aboard Zamboni machines for a race across a parking lot.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

No one would blame the veteran WTAE anchor if she took time off while undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment. Instead, she chose to use humor and grace to educate and inspire others, all while in the public eye.
Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

For many, medical marijuana is a panacea capable of alleviating a wide range of symptoms. As Pennsylvania begins allowing the drug’s medical use, patients are relieved — and business is booming.
Restaurant Review: Casbah Still is Rocking

Restaurant Review: Casbah Still is Rocking

More than 20 years into its run, Casbah remains one of Pittsburgh’s most relevant restaurants.
First There Was Hot Yoga. Then There Was Goat Yoga

First There Was Hot Yoga. Then There Was Goat Yoga

Believe it or not, yogis have been practicing with goats in the Unites States for more than a year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Mt. Washington’s Bigham Tavern is the latest ‘Burgh eatery to host a film crew.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

The French-inspired bakery will feature croissants, cookies, bread and more.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


Enjoy a Relaxing Evening of Wanton Destruction at Break Room

Enjoy a Relaxing Evening of Wanton Destruction at Break Room

The Irwin business offers the chance to smash inanimate objections for a little "therapeutic demolition."

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Much as they’d like to, the Steelers won’t be able to exorcise the ghosts of AFC Championship Games Past, even with a win on Sunday.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Movie Review — Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Movie Review — Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A review of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," the latest entry in the massive franchise.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

A local wedding photographer has created a business to connect same-sex couples with LGBTQ-friendly vendors.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

The new season of the home improvement show featuring Pittsburgh siblings Leanne and Steve Ford debuts on HGTV in January.

Comments