Stanley's Northeast Bar Room: A slicked-up sequel

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April 25, 2011
By: Carla Waldemar
Carla Waldemar
There goes the neighborhood. No longer can you count on enabling your inner Neanderthal by hunkering over a greasy brat and Grain Belt in the dark, unseemly confines of a decent dive bar.

Indeed, Stasiu’s has bit the dust. But, rising from the rubble, welcome Stanley’s, the slicked-up sequel of its Polish forbear, touting the same name but translated into the lingua franca of the hipsters who’ve reclaimed Nordeast. Neighborhood regulars have returned, too, along with others who’ve heard the word — four words, actually: great beer, good food.

And lots of both. A chronicler of microbreweries could earn his Ph.D. here, with 32 taps, saluting the froth of regional hop gods from Fulton to Surley and Lift Bridge and 12 spigots devoted to the suds of Ireland. Plus, the night we walked in, Schell’s reps were handing out free samples.

Stanley’s menu hits the mark, too: bar food that appeases the consciences of slumming foodies with made-in-house and locally-sourced provender, while simultaneously catering to the more traditional “If it ain’t broke, don’t you dare fix it” crowd.

Thus, apps ($3.79–$7.79) like sliders (these, from house-smoked brisket); fries (hand-cut sweet potatoes or with pepperjack sauce); and jalapeno poppers (updated with a roasted red-pepper coulis). And smoked brisket nachos, unquestionably the best thing to cross my lips this week. The chips come shouldered with generous strands of smoky, tender meat in combo with a blend of cheeses, all avalanched with more cheese sauce. Ramekins at the ready provide a snappy salsa, chopped jalapenos, sour cream to smooth the bite and a fresh, perky housemade guac. I’ll drink to that.

Well, I did. Then I ordered the walleye (entrees $7.79 up) — a slim, mild flavored grilled fillet (or choose beer-battered) attended by a modest, mostly mayo, house-made tartar sauce and choice of two sides. The cole slaw carried a pleasing sweet-tart zing, thanks to vinegar instead of mayonnaise in its makeup. Better yet: a generous cup of chili, almost thick enough to require a carving knife and stoked with Guinness, along with tomatoes, meat and beans.

But here’s what you really need to do to qualify as a Stanley’s groupie: Order the Hamorker, as deliciously disgusting as it sounds, and by far the most popular burger — a half-pounder topped with pulled pork from the kitchen’s smoker and a lode of Cheddar. Is that even legal? Never mind. (The Stanley Burger substitutes brisket for pork atop the pattie, another sign that anorexia shall never make inroads in Nordeast.)


Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room
2500 University Ave. NE  //  788-2529 // stanleysbarroom.com  //  Twitter: @stanleysbarroom