Yesterday at work, my eyes were aching. I was interviewing someone on the phone when I realized I couldn’t type because I was actually draped across my keyboard, doing my best to assume the napping position while still holding a coherent conversation. Things are to the point that, when people ask how many nights in a row I’ve been out, I usually just make something up: “Oh, somewhere around 20. Maybe 23.”
The point of all this boohooing is to say that last night was not the easiest time to get me excited about going out to a bar. Yet, after a weeklong planning effort, dozens of e-mails in the making, to unite a group of five busy friends for a few hours of beer and food, there was no backing out, come rain, hail, sleet, snow, high water, or whatever. And I’m glad I didn’t.
Where did we convene? The latest of the Brit invaders, a new bar on the dividing line between Wicker Park and the Ukrainian Village called Bangers & Lace—brought to you by various owners and designers involved in such destinations as Bar DeVille, Nightwood, Angels & Kings, and Duchamp—that opened Tuesday (read more about it in this Dish Flash from July, just ignore the partners’ overly optimistic “Labor Day” opening date). I’ll deliver a full review soon but, for now, eight initial observations:
1. Two smallish TVs are way better than 50 huge ones, especially when they’re turned off.
2. Did you know that when you stretch a delicate lace curtain across a window, with the light of a streetlamp shining through, it creates the most pleasing lacy shadow on the brick wall inside?
3. If you are a self-conscious beer drinker like The Chaser, it’s nice to have someone called a cicerone—basically a beer sommelier—around to help pick your brew. (I had the Rare Vos from Brewery Ommegang; $7 on draft.) No need to look like you don’t know what you’re doing; instead, you look adventurous. Ask for Ria.
4. As far as bar food goes, burgers are out. Sheboygan—as in brats—is in ($8).
5. Salad may not be the smartest thing to order on a menu that also lists a foie gras corn dog ($13).
6. Chef Graham “F$#! Chicago magazine” Elliot likes a nice British ale on a Thursday night, too (see photo below).
7. Going to a bar that’s only been open for two nights—and is thus far unknown to the hipster throngs who will soon be lining the block—is great for getting in some quality friend time without engaging in vocal warfare.
8. Ordering dessert at a bar should not be unheard of, particularly when there is apple pie a la mode ($6). Yes, pie goes with beer.
Happy weekending, everyone.
Photography: Robert Compitello