In the past it was unlikely you'd find J and I at bars on Friday and Saturday nights, but I think we finally found our time/place/manner for watering hole attendance. The ideal situation is as follows:
- Bar that has real food, not just mozzarella sticks, loaded potato skins, and chicken fingers. (Delicious chicken wings are real food, FWIW.) Also: non-fratty beers.
- 2-4 additional friends
Recently we had some good times at three establishments that meet the criteria.
City Beer Hall has a really nice environment, particularly in the winter. It's lodgy and roomy, there's a fireplace. One of their gimmicks is that with every drink ordered you get a ticket for a free little pizza. The pizzas are, as I said, little (teeny) and thin, but they are food and they are free. The beers on tap are actually interesting and include a bunch from NY (as they should). Next time we go I want the Juicy Lucy, a New York grass-fed burger stuffed with gouda. YUM. J would probably choose the chicken & waffles. I'll let you know how it goes.
On a weekday it was easy for 8 or so of us to comfortably hang out and talk. Note: There is a mechanical bull, but I gathered that it's upstairs, which was closed off because of a private party. Next time.
The Merry Monk was also comfortably quiet on a recent weekday--3/4 of us were on winter break, and it was nice to catch up without loud craziness going on. A lot of good Belgian and Belgian-style beers were available, including all the Ommegangs. Mussels and other yums await. We liked the frites, but apparently they were frozen. Shows how refined our taste is--give us hot fries and some tasty dipping sauce and we're psyched. The only issues we had were that a few beers were out (which we weren't told until we ordered, after spending probably too much time figuring that part out) and our server didn't seem particularly knowledgeable about the beers. Which is a problem if you're working at a place that prides itself on having all Belgian or Belgian-style beers.
The Olde English delighted us with fried wonders. Battered sausage, fries, and fried cod were all delicious. Don't go for the battered sausage alone, though; it's a salty situation, so a few bites are all you need. The lamb sliders were pretty good, but there was too much bread for the meat, which was disappearing in the fluff. I stuck to oatmeal stouts and was pleased in the beverage department. Fun surprise: games, from Jenga to Scrabble and beyond. A little sad: so damned loud. So very, very loud. Obviously this varies from night to night (unless it's always loud, in which case, sorry I gave you hope of respite).
Where else should I go for these kinds of excursions?