Bob Curttright knew that wine tasted better when it's enjoyed in a scenic setting. That's why he set out on a search for the perfect setting before opening his winery, Whiskey Run Creek. He found the setting he dreamed of in a century-old barn owned by Julius Bergmann and moved the historic structure?which was built from oak and walnut beams without a single nail?more than 18 miles to a creekside property.
Now owned by Ron and Sherry Heskett, they fill visitors' glasses with wine made from Nebraska-grown ingredients. In addition to varietals, such as Chambourcin and Edelweiss, their winery produces seasonal fruit wines made with apples and cherries from local farms. Guests can relax with their wine on an expansive deck or explore renovated brick caves built in 1866.
One autumn day, 13-year-old Shanita McAfee wandered through her local apple orchard, plucking the ripest, plumpest apples. She had done this for years with her dad and siblings, but this year was different. Instead of giving the apples to her mom for apple pies, Shanita decided to take on the challenge herself. She loved her mom's pies, but didn't understand why her mom would use a store-bought crust if she was going to put in the effort to make everything else from scratch. So, Shanita started experimenting with various homemade-crust recipes, and her passion for cooking was born.
Though Shanita?s repertoire has expanded to include savory dishes, such as New Orleans?style shrimp and pan-seared seafood, her cooking philosophy remains the same: fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared with love. Magnolia?s chef has also made it her mission to challenge people to "experience traditional Southern ingredients and food in a different way." That's why she creates things such as braised oxtail lasagna and Grown Up grilled cheese?toasted farm-to-market challah bread with smoked gouda and Tillamook cheddar served with bacon horseradish dip and a 401K pamphlet.
Each of the wines on the shelf in Cellar Rat has been vetted by the staff?nothing is sold to the public unless the staff would drink it or use it as a substitute for milk in cereal. The resulting more than 800 wines, 70% of which are less than $20, make for tasty everyday and special-occasion beverages, as do the number of premium spirits and handcrafted brews stocked alongside the wine.
Cellar Rat?s vino experts do more than just discern the difference between good and bad wine; they also teach others how to do so during wine classes that delve into the intricacies of tasting. They even make pairing suggestions for the artisan cheeses, gourmet cured meats, and pate also sold in the boutique shop.
The Waldo district's 75th Street Brewery concocts unique beers best enjoyed while listening to the sounds of the local musicians who frequent its stage. As brewmasters labor to perfect the flavor of each keg, chefs craft an ever-growing menu of famous American eats, including burgers, ribs, pasta, and fresh vegetable salads. They call out daily specials on colorful, handwritten chalkboard menus suspended next to the high, exposed wooden rafters. For those who appreciate alfresco dining, a sunny beer garden lets in air and light through its slotted roof, while four solid walls block unpleasant noises, such as the squalls of wandering avant-garde jazzmen.
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by hospitality experts, has an on-site brewery and a menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Gourmet pub-grub appetizers and many other generously portioned dishes are listed alongside the beers that bring out their flavors. The intoxicating taste of the inebriated vodka mussels ($12.99) is suggested alongside Northern Light––a light creamy beer––and the juicy, tender meatiness of a 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99) is advised along with Brother Benedict’s bock––a brownish German-style lager. Others among Granite City Food & Brewery's six specialty brews are the Irish-style Broad Axe stout, known for its nose of roasted chocolate and coffee notes, and Duke Of Wellington, an IPA with muscle-bound malt character and a deep-seated dislike of Napoleon.
As sister bars, The Well and Lew?s Grill & Bar make a perfect pairing for parties. Throughout the year, the bars usually host event parties including St. Patrick's Day, Hop Fest Craft Beer Festival, and New Year's Eve celebrations. The Well's rooftop bar lets patrons relax under the stars as they drink from a selection of more than 30 tap beers and bottled brews. The Well's chef-prepared menu includes plates of elevated bar fare, including char-grilled KC strip steak, baja fish tacos, roasted vegetable ravioli, and black Angus burgers. Das Boot, Lew's signature drink, is an 84-ounce boot-shaped beer that comes with an optional challenge: patrons who can imbibe the full boot, plus 2.5-pounds of cheeseburger and fries, win a free T-shirt and the honor of proving they have a stomach that is bigger on the inside.