0624 Happy Hour at Dominick’s

A couple of weeks ago, my library launched our new website – we also launched the new look on our catalog, wiki, FAQ, blog, and probably other places that I’ve forgotten in the crazy stress leading up to the launch.  I inherited the design from my predecessor, and have spent the last few months beating the site and associated services into shape for this launch.  And tonight we celebrated!

Quiet Sundays at Casa Dominick's
photo by phil dokas

As far as campus bars go, Dominick’s is a real treat. This is no Kams or CO Daniels, where your shoes stick to the floor and where the sidewalks have to be hosed off every morning – weekdays included – to eradicate the smell of undergrad excess. Tucked away at the south end of Central Campus, just around the corner from both the B-School and the Law School, it seems to attract an older audience – more grad students and staff than undergrads – at least when I’ve been there. There’s a sheltered patio in front, and a lovely garden in back, and if you know you’re going to be there with a group, you can call ahead to reserve a table.

dominick's
photo by Sean Munson

Tonight we convened in the back garden, enjoying Mason jars full of sweet sangria or Founders pale.  Shane and I split a totally adequate chicken quesadilla, far too large for just one person and packed full of vegetables and melty cheese.  I coveted the slabs of garlic bread and bowls of pesto-coated pasta enjoyed by my coworkers – must remember this for another happy hour.  For now, though, I am happy to have the site out the door, our awful versioning system rendered obsolete, and just enough sangria in my system to make weeding a pleasant task.  Off to the garden!

0510 Happy Hour at Grange

Benton’s Old Fashioned, originally uploaded by dansays.

Dinner tonight was a real treat. First, Karin was in town, which is always an excuse for excess laughter and bacon. Second, instead of cooking at home, we decided to try a new happy hour – at Grange. Third, did I mention bacon? How about poutine? Fancy cocktails? Because we had all of those things.

Grange is a relatively new addition to the A2 restaurant scene – new enough to merit  Current’s award for Best New Restaurant – and while we’d tried bites of their food at the HomeGrown Festival last fall, we hadn’t been to the restaurant proper.  Their happy hour deal is $2 off cocktails, wine by the glass, and the bar menu, which seemed just right for a pretty affordable dinner with a friend (thanks, Karin!).  We got to Grange right around 6 and found the upstairs bar practically empty, meaning we had our server’s undivided attention, which came in handy as I felt the need to grill her about everything on the menu.  I ordered their signature drink: the GKB Manhattan, comprised of bacon infused Bulleit Bourbon, maple syrup, orange bitters, and brandied cherries.

I’ll be honest with you – I love bacon as much, if not more, than your average girl, but I’m pretty on the fence about bacon in drinks.  My cocktail was not un-enjoyable, but the bacon-infused bourbon left a strange mouthfeel reminiscent of the greasy burned bits that are left in the pan after you fry bacon and drain off the rendered fat.  How’s THAT for an appetizing description?  My dinner – an excellent fried egg sandwich with chile mayo on thick slices of challah – was actually a pretty nice pairing to my weird drink, so I’m thankful I ordered in that direction.

Shane had the French 75 – a sweet/tart gin-based cocktail with lemon and sparkling wine – and the duck confit poutine – a pile of fries topped with soft cheese curds, bits of duck, and a thinner gravy than I would’ve expected.  Karin also had a very nice Dark and Stormy along with the fried egg sandwich, and we all split a bowl of savory fried chickpeas – the real highlight of the meal for me.

Despite winning the Current award, Grange has gotten pretty mixed reviews on Yelp, and I can understand why: there was nothing wrong with our food, per se, but I had a vague sense (like that strange mouthfeel) that it could’ve been more right.  You know what I mean?

0427 Happy Hour at Packard Pub

Tonight Leah convinced me that I had to go to happy hour.

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of “hang out” friends in my life right now – you know, the sort of friends that you can email at 3pm to make plans for dinner that night, or who would be down with sitting on the couch and watching a terrible movie.  I feel like that’s a kind of friendship I haven’t cultivated here yet, and it’s something I really feel the need for in my life.

So when work people called a happy hour, Leah wouldn’t hear of me staying home, despite my reticence and my desire to sit on the couch and eat pizza.  I convinced Shane that going out would be a good idea, and off we went to Packard Pub, which turned out to be a TOTAL sports bar.

You know the type – a bajillion TVs all tuned to the same game, waitresses (no waiters) in referee outfits, $6 pitchers of shitty beer, and food served in paper-lined baskets.  The sort of place you might want to go if you are a Big 10 undergrad who has just turned 21.  Or if you’re a middle-aged man who likes to relive your days of collegiate sports (or drinking) glory.  Or if you enjoy sub-par service and adequate food.

OK, OK.  Focus on the food.  I had a turkey Reuben, and Shane took advantage of the half-priced appetizers and had a chicken quesadilla, both of which were totally adequate.  My coworkers ordered the fried pickles, which were strange and soggy.  Several pitchers of Bud Light were split amongst those in attendance.  I don’t know if I cultivated any hang-out friendships, but I did make an effort to be social, and that’s half the battle, right?  Right?