Oct 8, 2012

Loafing through Lemont

I’m continuing my road to Wrigleyville from last summer with our final stop before we hit Chicago – historic downtown Lemont, Ill. 

Lemont is actually one of the oldest communities in northeastern Illinois.  It’s been around since 1836 and prospered early because of its position on the Des Plaines River.  Because of the small town charm it’s retained through the years, along with its historic significance in the development of the nearby Illinois and Michigan Canal, Lemont is more thriving than surviving again.  In other words, the suburbanites are discovering it. 

Kent and I got a sample of that mix of small town and suburbia at the Stonehouse Pub, just a couple blocks down Stephen Street off of Main, as you head toward the river.  The building looks painstakingly restored, and the inside has a nice modern pub feel to it.  When we arrived for what we figured would be a happy hour/early dinner crowd, we were surprised to see no more than a small crowd of people bellied up to the bar.  But business picked up the longer we stayed … I sometimes forget how far people are will to commute from the city.

As you can tell, the bar looked well stocked and well staffed.  The bartender and waitress who took our food and drink orders were both very friendly and made us feel welcome.  They even encouraged Kent to liven the place up by playing some tunes on the jukebox.

Is that an obscene gesture toward the jukebox?
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

At any rate, one thing that impressed me about Stonehouse Pub was the menu, including an extensive drink menu which offered more than a dozen featured cocktails.  I’m all about choices!  In fact, the bloody mary sounded so good, we vowed to make a return trip on our way back Sunday (future spoiler alert!). 

Having realized we found our spot for dinner, we ordered – a taco platter for Kent and, at the waitress’ recommendation, buffalo shrimp for me.  And, this picture does not do justice to how good they were. 

Messy and delicious!
I would easily recommend the Stonehouse Pub for a drink or two and/or some good pub food.  We walked out of the Stonehouse very pleased with our find.

On our way back to the car, we took one look across the street from Stonehouse and saw something we could hardly believe.  Was that a sign for Blatz beer? Did they even make Blatz anymore?  Clearly, we needed to research this more.

The quick answer to both questions was yes and yes.  The Blatz sign is original and when you see it you know you’re at Tom’s Place.  And not only do they still serve Blatz on tap (which I paid tribute to with one myself), according to the bartender we talked to, Tom’s holds the distinction of having the oldest continuously running business relationship with Blatz Beer in the nation (I guess Miller has actually taken over the corporate reins). 

Tom’s has been around since 1924 and has definitely earned its pedigree as a true no-frills tavern.  The prices are cheap.  The décor shows their loyalties lie with the White Sox.  The bartenders really seem to know their cocktails, but they’d much rather serve you a shot and a Blatz than a Cape Cod.  The overall atmosphere is priceless.  It really is hard to find a real, down to earth bar like this anymore.  Kent couldn’t resist buying a souvenir shirt to commemorate the experience. 

Now, to be honest, after one Blatz on tap, I was Blatzed out.  I remembered stories of the Blatz splats from college and did not want to take my chances.  So, what did I settle for next?  Hamm’s, of course.

Seriously, if you can serve Blatz on tap and Hamm’s in a can, you belong in the Dive Bar Hall of Fame. 

It was with some regret that we bid Tom’s and the town of Lemont farewell and drove the last leg of the trip up to Chicago with the sun setting behind us.  But with Tom’s Place and the Stonehouse Pub on the same block, I have a feeling I’ll be making another trip to Lemont on some future trip to Windy City. 

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