It’s November, otherwise known as the beginning of an all sports, all the time lifestyle until spring (if all goes well). Between Seahawks games and UK basketball, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that there is a whole world outside of fandom. B and I made our first (of two) trips to see the UK men’s basketball team play. We were finishing out the Champions Classic in Chicago.
The best part of traveling for these trips is watching the games and not being the only two Kentucky fans in the place. Let’s face it, I’m still new to all of this, so if B wants to talk about anything that happened more than 4 seasons ago, I’m pretty useless. So he did his research before we left and discovered that The Pony is the UK bar in Chicago.
We spent the first two nights staying with our friends, RC and BC, (of the Napa Nap) in their beautiful new home. RC isn’t the first person we’ve dragged along to a UK bar. We put 3 other friends through a similar experience in New York for the first game of the Champions Classic in 2011.
It can be a little bit of an odd experience. UK fans are really, really enthusiastic and at any given moment you’re likely to hear someone yell at the top of their lungs “Ohhhhhhh… C-A-T-S” followed by everyone else in the place screaming “Cats! Cats! Cats!” This generally happens two more times consecutively… and then again a few minutes later.
We don’t have a lot of UK fans around us in Seattle. Sure, there’s an alumni association, but they tend to give very little notice about where they’re watching games and they favor a bar I really, really hate. So watching with other fans is still pretty much a novelty to us.
The environment at The Pony was pretty subdued. There were quite a lot of UK fans, but no spontaneous cheers or Teach Me Bout Kentucky full blast during the commercials. B hates this song, but I kind of love it because it makes me laugh and because T Jones is a pretty terrible rapper.
Oh, and there was food too. This was our first actual meal in Chicago and let me just say that I was very happy to be sharing food with two men with hearty appetites. Chicago delivered portion sizes like nothing I’ve ever seen. We live in Seattle where small portions are par for the course. If you stay out of chain restaurants, you can generally avoid portions fit for a family of giants. Chicago restaurants are more than generous, though. We shared the Waffle Nachos (Waffle fries, smoked chicken chili, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, house pickled jalapeno, lettuce, tomato, sour cream). We enjoyed them thoroughly, but I’d like to point out that they were from the Starters menu. I could practically hear my FitBit crying in pain.
We also shared an order of wings that… well, that tasted like wings.
Perhaps the highlight of the menu was the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Appropriate, no? I like beer. I don’t drink it often, but when I do, I’m particular. Wheat beers and I aren’t friends, so I tend to pick darker, heavier stouts or Scotch ales when I have one. This might have been the most delicious beer I’ve ever tasted. The Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. website suggests it’s also appropriate as an aperitif or a digestif. I wholeheartedly agree. Sadly, you can’t buy it in Seattle. You can enjoy it in Ireland, but I guess the Pac NW is a little obscure. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for it just in case, though.