It recently became apparent that Cindy of Food Migration and I had a bit in common. Namely, living in Chicago with our parents, unemployed, and newly returned from 6 months abroad. (And we both run food blogs of course.) Cindy emailed me and we made a plan to meet one another. I suggested that we get an early lunch at Fontanos and then head to the Berghoff Bar for some final drinks before it closed for "renovations." I wasn't sure how my new friend would take my suggestion to hit a bar before noon, but much to my delight she thought it was "the coolest idea ever." I had a feeling we would get along.
It was my first time at Fontanos. One of my old roommates is a big fan and I kept meaning to stop by. John and I got there early and the sweet woman who ran the shop made us a fresh pot of coffee for free and we watched them move in the goods for the day. Later on we even got to watch them move out two 8 foot long subs! Amazing.
The subs were very good. The bread in particular was excellent. Super soft sub breads (like those of Subway) taste wet and spongy, while still others might be so hard and crusty that they hurt my mouth. This bread, however, had the perfect texture and chewiness. All of the ingredients were high quality, fresh, and perfectly seasoned. I am a fan.
Though some people might not give a lot of pause to the Berghoff closure, it did make me sad. I had a surprise chance to be part of a dinner reservation last Saturday with my parents which was a lot of fun. The restaurant wasn't excellent, but I will sorely miss my standard meal of mushroom strudel and creamed spinach. In addition, the staff was wonderful during all of my experiences -- some of the finest waiters I have had the pleasure to meet, the Berghoff Cafe was a lovely little out of the way place where it was almost always easy to find a table on my lunch break, and the bar. . .
. . .Oh the bar. I am one of those people that loves to read in bars alone. The Berghoff Bar was the place for my enjoyment of this past time. An engrossing book and reasonably priced quality beer was one of my favorite ways to spend my hour after work and before beginning the often long commute home. I have met some of the friendliest folks sitting at that bar, and not one of them asked for my number. For a girl who likes to sit alone in bars, the interest in my literary choices as opposed to whether or not I was single was a welcome change. I know the bar will re-open, but I'm not planning to count my eggs before they hatch. I am openly mourning the end of the only charming and laid-back bar in the loop.
Yesterday, the last day, Cindy, her boyfriend Randy, John, our friend Dan, and I spent the hours between 11:45am and 2:45pm with a crowd of half patrons to half journalists. The bartenders were calm and cool as ever and the pure joy of the employed who had cut work to spend a few hours getting boozed up felt frenetic.
I truly hope the Berghoff Bar retains its character and once the hoopla boils down, I hope things become as lovely as they once were. We shall see.
It was wonderful to meet Cindy and Randy. I hope we can share a few more unemployed afternoons together.