I love having a neighborhood bar to call my own.
There is something so delicious about throwing on the coat, grabbing your drinking key and walking to the end of the block for a couple beers and a bite to eat.
In my case, it is the fine Habits Cafe in the heart of Oakley Square.
I lucked out and had the day off from work today. Unfortunately I still had to head out for an appointment in Mt. Auburn this morning - I spent an hour and a half driving back to my neighborhood through the first round of wicked snowfall. Madison Road was a complete bitch and I entertained myself by singing very loudly to the fine mixology offered by 94.9 The Sound. The traffic crawled along the icy swath through East Walnut Hills and dodged the terribly inconvenient/frequent red lights of O'Bryonville.
Eventually I made it to the outskirts of Hyde Park and I knew I was only a few painful minutes away from a nice, cold pint.
I finally cruised through the square and dashed inside my apartment to put on my weekend uniform of comfy jeans and a cozy sweater. Then it was time to suit up for serious business - the three minute walk down the corner to sweet salvation.
I toted along some old newspapers and magazines I'd been meaning to tackle and picked a spot in the center of the long, wooden bar.
The bartender took my drink order and returned in a flash with a tall Bell's Two-Hearted Ale (which is my new favorite beer of the moment. It's a great IPA out of Michigan with a solid, crisp flavor. I suggest you try it if you see it on draught at a bar near you) and dropped a menu. I was going to need it because while my taste buds were salivating for the Habits Grilled Cheese, my sometimes reluctant dedication to Catholicism reminded me it was a Lenten Friday and so that meant no bacon between all that greasy goodness.
Instead, I went with the fish and chips - it was great, though the herbs and seasonings on the fish made me think The Colonel was working back in the kitchen, but I knew the likelihood of that was directly related to whether the Second Coming had begun.
...What's up with all the religion in this post?
I followed the Two-Hearted with a nice pint of Smithwick's (am I the only one who is incredibly annoyed by people who can't pronounce this beer correctly? I hear the incorrect version and it makes me think of nails on a chalkboard) and a perusal of the travel section from last Sunday's paper.
The bar got incredibly crowded as the afternoon passed on. More people poured in off the street, brushing big, fluffy flakes off their North Face. The virgin white gusts swirled around on the other side of the tinted plate glass and I gazed longingly out the window with my cold suds in hand.
The afternoon was something I wanted to savor - not just on an epicurean level.
The romance of the snow, the free afternoon and the solitude was not lost on me.