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CLUBS in and around Orange County

Billiard Hall Takes Cue From Art

More than pool on tap at sports bar.

April 16, 1998|GENA PASILLAS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LAKE FOREST — Great art is always better when experienced in a magnificent gallery. Likewise, a beautiful room enhances a game of billiards. At the Plush Pocket Billiard and Sports Bar, players can experience the art of pool in its highest form, without emptying the pockets of their pants.

Avant-garde decor fills an elaborate room that houses 20 professional pool tables. Custom artwork designed by Matthew Beeler is meant to "service, stimulate and provide an economical alternative to social boredom and continual mundaneness."

Owner Paul Rice of Dana Point, whose family has been in the business for 30 years, pulled out all the stops for his billiard palace. Guests are greeted by a 4-foot slab of black granite from Italy that's in the shape of an eight ball. Display cases elegantly lined in gold leaf flaunt exquisite pool cues--sold discounted by $25 at $199.

Black lights are set against purple walls splashed with gold paint, creating an optical treat. Beeler's imaginative projects offer an artful perspective of billiards; the fancifully blurred images would be appreciated in any gallery. Great pride in the Plush Pocket's original style prompted Rice to obtain a copyright in 1992.

Pool isn't all that can be found here, though. The weekend entertainment lineup features a disc jockey on Friday and Saturday nights.

People pile in to frolic to the diversified music provided by DJ Bill. Though the Plush Pocket isn't a nightclub, many would be fooled by the throng of nocturnals in their most alluring raiment. But almost any duds will do. Only those in bare feet or gang garb will be turned away.

Sunday nights belong to karaoke--and it's a big hit. The Plush Pocket recently was named Best New O.C. Karaoke Club. Sharing the honor is Mic Ketchum, whose fine oversight furnishes five minutes of fame for every participant.

Vocalists can choose from 26,000 songs in a wide range of categories. Those with delicate eardrums may wish to bring earplugs. Performance requirements do not include nightingale voices, though backup singers camouflage most sour notes. Raffles, with prizes of clothing and gift certificates redeemable at the club, are part of the merriment.

Need to quiet those hunger pangs? The Plush Pocket's deep fryer-free kitchen serves up delectable and healthful edibles. Mouth-watering munchies such as baked Mississippi hush puppies, vegetarian "Tato" skins and Buffalo Busters go for only $4.95. There are also $4.95 hot and cold colossal sandwiches; purchasing one entitles the buyer to free pool from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

During everyone's favorite part of the day--happy hour (5-7 p.m.)--there are complimentary peanuts and pretzels, plus free pool with a minimum purchase of $6. Happy hour also features $2 cocktails, shots and draft beers. Regular drink prices are $2.75-$4.95--in fact, nothing consumable costs more than $4.95.

To help get past hump day, the Plush Pocket dishes up Wild Wednesdays. From 8 p.m. to closing, food, booze and games are a mere dollar apiece.

Don't forget: The Plush Pocket is also a sports bar. Larger-than-life athletes battle it out on giant-screen TVs.

BE THERE

The Plush Pocket Billiards and Sports Bar, 24358 Swartz Drive, Lake Forest. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. 21 and older. (714) 951-7665.

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