The sudden clatter of a billiards break. The quick shuffling of cards. A pinball machine's clanging bells. All can be heard at The Velvet Rail, where everything from regulation-size felt-topped tables to foosball and air hockey keep patrons of all ages entertained. As a digital jukebox pumps out tunes, snacks such as hot dogs, nachos, and hummus fuel games of snooker or pool, and free WiFi allows players to post online personal ads for "eight ball seeks corner pocket."
The clink of whiskey glasses, the upbeat strains of fiddles, and the mouthwatering aroma of braised lamb shank: these are the sights, sounds, and smells that envelop the senses at Claddagh Irish Pub. The lively eatery sates stomachs with a menu of traditional dishes, such as shepherd’s pie, and those with modern twists, such as the fish accompanied by fresh mango salsa or cilantro-lime rice. The chefs try to use seasonal ingredients and keep tongues from getting bored by changing their offerings twice a year and hiding firecrackers in the desserts.
Diners swig a variety of Irish beer and whiskey and sip more than a dozen wines surrounded by dark wood accents and stone walls that evoke the Emerald Isle. A slew of events entertain ears, including traditional Irish music jams on Sunday evenings and trivia on Wednesday nights.
Homestyle food and a relaxed atmosphere help make guests at Tony's Kitchen feel like regulars. The culinary crew is all about the food, battering shrimp and fish by hand and making each day's soup from scratch and a mystical ladle. Pizzas emerge from the brick oven, crisp and hot, while chicken dishes and burgers all keep bellies full. Diners cleanse their palates with craft beers or signature cocktails, such as the Tony's Tito, made with Tito's Handmade Vodka, blue curacao, and fresh pineapple.
Though it’s called Michno's Cafe, coffee and pastries are not on the menu here. Instead, Michno’s exudes a bar ambiance with a menu boasting a half-pound burger handcrafted from fresh meat delivered three times a week and hearty deli sandwiches. One sandwich boasts new york strip steak, and beer-battered cod gives an audible crunch in another. At the bar, Michno’s buzzes as guests take advantage of daily drink specials. Crispy appetizers such as waffle fries and deep-fried mushrooms literally fuel patrons on karaoke Wednesdays and trivia nights in a way that the thrill of victory only aspires to.
Foam-topped pints of beer complement Timberwolf Tavern's menu of hearty pub food. Housemade bread and tortilla chips scoop up the kitchen's specialty cheese dip of the month—also the name of the award for Wisconsin's best swimmer—and vegetables join a blend of Mexican cheeses inside quesadillas. Timberwolf also makes crispy chicken strips that can be dipped in ranch and barbecue sauces. Buffalo wings, alternatively, can be dipped in six sauces, such as hickory, honey, and a five-alarm sauce.
The sound of sizzling grills punctuates the gentle whir of beer taps at Basement Burger Bar. Here, amid, exposed brick and flat-screen TVs, craft brews and cooked-to-order Angus beef compete for the spotlight as guests crunch through baskets of fried pickles and jalape?o poppers. Protein-packed ingredients such as bison, turkey, and black beans form burger bases, which diners can customize with bacon, grilled pineapple, blue cheese, and more than 30 other add-ons. Instead of cleansing palates with miniature squeegees, the bar draws pint-size baths of Short's seasonal suds and Dogfish Head Brewery ale, and a soon-to-open second location aims to sate hunger and thirst.