Gourmet is a relative term that relies on a primary factor: money. Because I’m an intern, I have what anyone with a stable income deems a scaled down sense of the word. All interns are the same – we make almost no money. What little we earn, we scrounge away in long evenings at the bar.
Why? Those in the REAL world with REAL positions cannot understand. Why don’t these adults-in-training devote some cash to their savings accounts? Get ready for life after college? Ever heard of a budget?
This is no review of gourmet food. I don’t cook. I eat applesauce and bread crumbs.
This is a review of my neighborhood bar.
Despite the sign that reads “Piano Man" that hangs above the entrance, I call this Chicago drinking well “No Name”. It doesn’t need an official title. For the eight regulars that line the bar, this place is home. In Wrigleyville, where the majority of the population is drunk from 3 p.m. until 2 a.m. everyday of the week, No Name provides a much-needed break from the melee of retired frat guy headbuts and expletives after another Cubs defeat.
There is no piano. There is no crowd. But what No Name lacks in bar standards it makes up for in price with five dollar pitchers of Miller Lite.
A warning: you can’t always count on the pitchers. In fact, the corner bar was out of draft beer for over a week. It’s true. A bar. With nothing on tap.
I prodded the owner. I couldn’t drink bourbon forever. When will the beer return?
“Eh,” he said with nonchalance, “probably when the Cubs come back to town.”
The miserable team was on a six game road trip. I was out of luck.
Still, I found myself within the walls of my haven each night of the week. Something called me back. The Polish tenders, the jukebox with Lynyrd Skynyrd classics, the family of No Namers I wanted to join.
I chatted with the neighborhood gang as we watched the home team sink to the doldrums of Major League Baseball in another failed year. We smiled over each new glass of well whiskey and soda. We lost money at the pool table.
If a dog is a man’s best friend, a bar is his life partner. I believe I’ve found mine.
If you’re interested in the food, I have nothing to offer. I doubt they even serve anything to eat.
But this is my call to you. Lower your standards. Lower your inhibitions. Bring your quarters. You play the music. I’ll buy the beer – if they have any on tap.
The Piano Man is on the corner of Clark and Grace Streets. You're invited.