This week's Thursday night out was all about watching NCAA basketball. My friend Mitch got some good news this week, so he picked the venue and we ended up at Finn McCool's in Schaumburg for a night of beer, bar food, and basketball on big TV's. Not my native habitat, but it ended up being pretty good.
Unlike some of the other sports bar-type places that we considered, McCool's is not a national chain. It's local. They have three locations, and from the look of their menu and the food, they're doing some scratch cooking in the kitchen. Or, at least, about as scratch as you're going to get from a place that offers diners the option of buying something called a "beer tower".
From where I sit, expectations are pretty low for places like this. McCool's served up fairly fresh-tasting pints of Guinness, the bartenders were friendly, efficient, and competent, no matter which way I turned my head, there was a huge TV showing basketball, and my burger (their Hickory Burger with bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce, and fried onion strings) was really quite good.
That's it to the right. I ordered it medium and, as you can see, that's a pretty damn-near perfect medium. Pretty good for a bar where, for most patrons, sports, alcohol, and bartender cleavage are probably much higher on the priority list than food.
A couple more interesting notes; they have something on their menu they're calling a "phatty melt", which is a burger that's served between two grilled cheese sandwiches in lieu of the bun. This seems like a nod to this new trend where people are wrapping everything in bacon, batter dipping and deep-frying things that aren't normally deep-fried, stuffing meat with meat and then wrapping it with bacon, and just generally trying to jam so much fatty decadence into things that they border on (or cross over to) being totally disgusting.
The more original novelty item on McCool's menu is the "inside out grilled cheese". I love the sound of this, and although I didn't order it or even see it, I am already figuring out how I'm going to go about reverse engineering my version of this. If I figure something out, I'll blog about it.
All in all, it was a very fun night out with old friends, we watched some good games, my final four is still intact (go Villanova!) and I have a (slightly) less negative attitude about sports bars, thanks, in no small part, to the smoking ban.