Just because you don't work in an office doesn't mean you don't need to sometimes indulge in happy hour.
True, I work from home (and sometimes out of a Panera), but on the days I do actually change out of my pajamas before 4 p.m. (those would be the days I set up shop in Panera), I like to schedule some plans with friends.
And, last Wednesday, after logging in a long, soup-filled day at the faux office, my fellow freelance friend Matt and I bid the bagels adieu (farewell, cinnamon crunch!) and headed to Matilda. The North Side bar offers stellar weekly specials $1 fish tacos on Tuesday and half-price appetizers on Thursday. (Note that the bar doesn’t open until 6 p.m., so if you plan on coming straight from work, take your time.)
Man, was I ready to celebrate. It was, after all, 5 p.m., and instead of my usual uniform—boxer shorts and a collegiate T-shirt—I had on pants, a top and even shoes. What more reason does a lady need for a cocktail?
I've been a fan of Matilda for years. It's low-key, large enough to almost always get a seat, located near the L, makes a mean martini and actually serves tasty food. Plus, since I've been a fan of wine for even more years, I was thrilled to hear the bar has a weekly Wednesday night wine special. Choose any of the 16 kinds of wine varieties and get a $5 glass or half-price bottle (which would been the more economical choice, given what we ended up ordering).
Matilda isn't kidding around about its wine. One Saturday night several years ago I had an extended conversation with the owner about his wine preferences and how he selects Matilda's wine list. The result is great: Reasonably-priced wines that taste pricey. It's like a magical illusion for your mouth. Although the phrase "orange blossoms" used to describe one of the blends caught my eye, I asked my waitress for her recommendation and ended up with a glass of Chardonnay.
As I expected, the wine was tasty, so we all ordered another round. And then we ordered up some snacks: cheese fries, baked to perfection and covered with not one but two types of cheese, cheddar and mozzarella. (The extra effort was duly noted.)
Then, for reasons I cannot explain, we decided to go for a third glass and then, while in the bathroom, my friend and I decided we all needed a fourth. Therein lies the problem with working from home: You can show up to your couch hungover just fine any morning you like. Your couch doesn't say a thing. (Although I do try to show up most mornings perky and before Oprah kicks off.)
But really, who can argue with large $5 glasses of wine that would normally run you $7 to $8? Besides, we were no in rush to leave. The bar never got too loud or crowded, our waitress was nice and we had nabbed a window seat.
Although we drank a lot, we did so fast, so the evening turned into an early one, allowing me to sleep soundly and wake up somewhat refreshed. I may have overdone it, but a situation involving white wine and cheese fries—two of my favorite things—and good friends is just too good to pass up. It couldn't have been better if everyone in the bar started singing showtunes or a unicorn walked in to join us. Well, OK, that might have been better. But there's always next week.
Check out Matilda at 3101 N. Sheffield Avenue, or read all about it at www.matilda-babyatlas.com.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in