Jun 24, 2014

A roaring 20th edition of Things Discussed at the Brewhaus

It’s kind of hard to believe I've devoted 20 blog posts to random drunken babble, but this post seems a little more relevant, as the venerable and beautiful Brewhaus, located in lovely downtown Springfield, Ill., marked the end of an era this month. 

The legendary, quite threadbare and severely mildewed Brewhaus carpet is no more.  A new, shiny wood floor has been installed in its place.  Yes, a little character was sacrificed to renovation and cleaner air for all. 

Nice and vertical in the front half of the bar ...
Nice an horizontal along the bar ... who says symmetry matters?

Jun 18, 2014

A commoner reviews University Dogs, Decatur, Ill.

I don’t know why, but it seems like it’s hard to find a really well-prepared Chicago-style hot dog outside of … well, Chicago. 

For a while, there was Fat Moe’s in Springfield, which did a passable job.  It sure had the look and feel of a Chicago dog and gyro joint.  But there’s something special about a perfectly char-grilled all-beef dog topped with all the right trimmings (keep the ketchup away, please!) that few places outside of the greater Chicago area seem to be able to perfect.  

So, you can imagine the slight trepidation and skepticism I had when my girlfriend suggested we go to University Dogs in Decatur, Ill.  With obvious hometown pride, she praised University Dogs as the real deal.  With other food options in the Millikin University area as a “Plan B” (including the recently blogged about Lock Stock & Barrel), I decided to give it a try. 

Jun 12, 2014

Taking stock of Lock, Stock and Barrel, Decatur, Ill.

Before I delve further into my most recent trip to New Orleans, I figured I’d take care of some other business closer to home – in this case, Decatur, Ill. 

To put Decatur in perspective with my hometown of Springfield for those who are unfamiliar with the area, think of Decatur like Springfield’s little brother. You know the one.  He lives in your shadow and has an identity crisis because of it.  He tries to do everything you do, only better.  He always looks like he’s been playing in the dirt, and he sometimes smells bad.  And even though you don’t want to admit it, he’s still pretty cool to hang out with. 

Anyway, that’s always been my impression.  Maybe it will keep improving over time because one of the first things my girlfriend suggested when she learned I was a blogger … and a foodie … and a barfly … was to show me around Decatur, her hometown , and introduce me to some of her favorite and familiar places.  And one of her first recommendations, among several surrounding Millikin University and the Oakland Street strip, was the Lock, Stock and Barrel. 

Jun 5, 2014

Finding Fenian’s in Jackson, Miss.

When looking for things to do in Jackson, Miss., an Irish bar is probably not the first place that comes to mind.  But, my friends and I dare to be different, so in our quest to keep our first night of vacation going after dinner at Burgers and Blues, we discovered Fenian’s Pub.  And I am glad we made this stop on the way back to our hotel – Fenian’s was a real find.

Sofa Kings (Jackson, Miss. version)
And to find Fenian’s, you kind of have to know where you’re going if you’re from out of town.  It’s on Fortification Street in Jackson’s Belhaven neighborhood, just a few minutes west of Interstate 55 and one block east of U.S. Highway 51/State Street, which still serves as one of the main arteries going through downtown. 

Our purpose in going to Fenian’s (other than the obvious one of having a nightcap, or several) was to check out a band called the Sofa Kings.  We wanted to see if it was the same band that plays sometimes in our home base of Springfield, Ill. (it wasn't).  Nonetheless, we enjoyed the music. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...