Last week, my friend Alicia and I decided we needed to catch up and down a cocktail or two. So we picked a place called Beer Bistro
, located in the West Loop close to where she lives. Beer Bistro has half-price appetizers and $5 martinis on Thursdays, the very day we'd decided to get together. Hooray!
However, a quick walk through the bar showed us that getting a seat—or an audible word in—would be next to impossible. (Lots and lots of happy was going on during that hour.) So we decided to try the place across the street called Plush.
It was indeed plush: Climbing into the soft, overstuffed banquettes felt like you were settling into a couch, and everything had a reddish tinge. And, amazingly, Plush also offered a half-price appetizer special. We were floored. What luck—and what luxury! I could enjoy a deal and seating fit for Henry VIII. (Note: Although the appetizer deal was in effect according to our waitress, as of this week, Thursday has changed to half-price sandwich night at Plush. Still not a bad deal.)
Plush also had a beer special: $3 domestic and import bottles. I ordered up a 312, which, by the way, is quickly becoming my favorite liquid area code. Mmmm, downtown, you sure taste good!
We ordered up too many appetizers, as bargains do tend to make me snacky, but they were all delish. The waitress recommended the spinach and artichoke dip, which was rich and appeared to be made with fresh spinach; the goat cheese and marinara sauce dish was also tasty and came with toasted bread rounds brushed with juuuust enough seasoning.
And the fried calamari was, as most fried things are, scrumptious. (Really, I'd eat a fried sponge, if it had enough batter on it. Well, some batter.)
But as lovely as Plush was, we knew that as it got later in the night, it would switch from a quiet dinner spot to club central, and that's not really my scene.
So across the street we went, back to Beer Bistro, to see if it had calmed down. And—it hadn't. I barely had the door open an inch before the loudness poured out; defeated, we retreated down the street to a bar called the Third Rail Tavern.
I was concerned at first; after all, isn't the third rail the one we're not supposed to touch to avoid electrocution? But the bar was great. It wasn't empty, but it had empty tables; the waitress was attentive and friendly; and the patrons were mostly neighborhood types of all ages and indie rock dudes.
And—for reasons I can only attribute to the universe aligning in some magical, merry way—the Third Rail also had half-price appetizers. (Is that you I see at table four, Santa and the Tooth Fairy!?)
We were still too full from the Plush feeding-frenzy to order any, of course, but it's nice to know that on Thursdays, you could basically just roll up and down Madison, drinking and shoving discounted potato skins into your mouth as you please.
Or, you could partake in Third Rail's Thursday beer special: $3 Goose Island drafts. Which I promptly did. Twice.
Want to check out the area appetizer deals or drink specials? Plush is located at 1104 W. Madison St., (312) 491-9800; the Third Rail can be found at 1133 W. Madison St., (312) 432-9107.