Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bar #44 (Preview) El Carnicero/Super Chango Tequileria

Three years ago Kelly and I decided to get married in places that we loved. Our wedding was on Huntington Beach. Miraculously, one day after a large storm front moved in we received a perfect sunny day in May. The lake even pretended it was the ocean giving us pleasant blue waves. We then moved onto one of our favorite restaurants, Momocho for our reception. Our wedding was small and the reception was held in the mid-afternoon. We were able to use the 2nd floor of the restaurant. We got to enjoy fantastic margaritas, guacamole and chips. Not many people get to have wild boar for their wedding dinner. It was a great success. Three years later our friends at Momocho decided to open a new restaurant and bar right around the corner from me. One of my favorite bars has become my newest local bar as bar #44 (preview), El Carnicero and its bar Super Chango Tequileria.
We were invited to El Carnicero's invite only, soft opening. Due to a miscommunication the invite came late and we weren't on the list when we arrived but were allowed in anyway. We found two seats at the bar and met Kellie our bartender. She would make sure that everything went well for us this evening and was always knowledgable about everything on the new menu.
El Carnicero's is a hybrid between a gastropub and a Mexican restaurant. It's got a clean look to it with lots of wood and a splash of Mexican wrestling. The seating is spread out enough for easy movement, no cramping and to keep noise down to tolerable levels.
They had a happy selection of craft and Mexican restaurant standards on tap. I didn't get those however. El Carnicero does amazing things with tequila and I needed it in my belly. I started off with a Spicy Naranja Chiquita. This drink is a refreshing, yet spicy mixture of blanco (white) tequila, Vietnamese cinnamon and red pepper syrup, and Jarrito (a Mexican brand of soft drink.) This is an exclusive drink out of their separate bar, Super Chango Tequileria. Super Chango will only be open Friday through Sunday creating it's own separate tequilatastic experience. I assume it will also be the only area that you can stand without getting into the servers' ways.
Kelly had one their famous margaritas. She had our favorite cucumber margarita. A light and refreshing mixture of actual cucumber and tequila with an amazing chili-pepper salt around the rim.
We started off with Orange Sesame and Habenero Guacamole and chips. It was so good. It's a spicy guac with an orange citris splash to bring out its flavor.
My entree was a duck leg confit tamale. It was like a Mexican Thanksgiving Day dinner on an open corn corn husk. The tastes changed as you ate it. It's only downside and really the only one of the whole evening was the cornmeal lumps were a little tougher than you'd want. These may already be perfected by the time they open. I wolfed down my green beans faster than I could write down a description. I'll simply recommend them. The empanadas were fine, however their mole sauce is probably one of the best out there. It's like a chocolate sauce but different, and includes 58 ingredients and days of prep.
I want you to take a picture with Pepe and post it to the Every Bar Facebook wall or put it up on Twitter @everybarlkwd or on Instagram tagged with #everybarinlkwd. In a month I'll buy one of you that does a shot at Super Chango Tequileria.
I got to talk to Eric the chef and owner of El Carnicero. You can quickly tell that he is proud of his food and restaurant. We talked about his complex mole sauce, the separate tequileria (worthy of visiting in itself), and his staff. I found during my time there that they not only are friendly, knowledgable about their product and never left us waiting but they really like working here. This last trait I have seen repeatedly raise the bar on different bars to bring them above their competition.
I will be returning to El Carnicero; specifically to Super Chango Tequileria to see how it compares to the rest for the official blog post. I'd be returning there anyway. Obviously, this isn't a cheap place to go. You wouldn't expect it to be, but it's definitely worth it. El Carnicero, bar #44, is fucking amazing and you need to go there right now!
El Carnicero, unlike its predecessor, does not smell like sewage.

Kelly, Me, and Kellie

Thank you Kellie for the great service and Eric for your time and free food.

16918 Detroit Ave

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bar #43 Madison's (Deceased)

Eventually, while traveling to all the bars you will run into the -ests. The bar with the best food. The loudest bar. The bar with the cheapest shots or the cheapest people. This week I went to what may be the diviest bar in Lakewood. I went to bar #43, Madison's, expecting just a dive bar but what I found was a family.

I entered Madison's, running late, expecting that Johnny would beat me there. He didn't, so, I was alone when I entered. Madison's is the kind of bar that could get completely quiet when a new person enters. Tonight was drunk old people night and they didn't care that I was there even as I stared blankly at everyone expecting to see another Every Bar in Lakewood shirt. Everyone was over the age of 55.
They didn't seem to have any beer taps but had an area where taps should be. So I started of with a bottle of Yuengling. They had a 2 for $3.50 deal going on all their domestic and bottom shelf beers. So my second beer was a Miller High Life. It seems the high life tastes like fizzy, slightly tinny, water.

How Miller High Life saved Johnny's Grandmother
Johnny's grandmother had gotten sick many years ago and needed emergency surgery. Due to allergies she was unable to handle anesthetics. She sent her husband across the street to get the only thing that was going to get her through the surgery, a six pack of Miller High Life. After chugging 4 or 5 of them down she called on the doctors. It was a success.  The operation still hurt but it never would have been able to happen if it weren't for her favorite beer.

Food includes bags of chips and free pretzel rods.

The bar took up two sides of Madison's room. Behind the bar was the beer, booze, a bunch of random stuff and a microwave. The room also had a tv, mp3 jukebox and table. Later we found a second room, it was mildly creepy because it's lights being off, showed signs of disuse and a sign naming it the Insane Asylum. Originally we thought that was a reference to the women's bathroom. It offered a pool table, dart boards and some old, awesome booths with pleather covering.
The crowd though drunk and old were very friendly. Throughout our time there various people came up to meet to us. A nice couple, Helen and Dave, enjoyed talking to us about their regular bar. There were two themes that were hit upon repeatedly while we were there.
The first was family. Their patrons know each other and over time care about each other. Madison's creates a comfortable environment to spend their evenings. They share their lives and become family. The family theme spread into the staff and ownership of Madison's as well. Lisa's, bartender, mom was in an issue of Nightlife and they had collected 30 issues for her. They showed the magazines off for years. The Madison family has also suffered a loss this year.

The second theme was change. The owner of Madison's passed away leaving the bar to his brother. As they say, with every ending comes a new beginning. Many are hopeful that Madison's future will brighten this year. Among possible changes that may come could be the opening of the second bar in the backroom. As much as Helen loves her friends at Madison's she is hopeful that changes will be coming that will bring in new options, new life and new customers to an old corner bar.
Lisa the bartender brings the same pride to her job that I've seen repeatedly at the so called dive bars. The pride of doing a good job, making her customers happy and showing them respect, along with pride in the business that she is part of is seen in her work. Lisa does not drink at work because it's disrespectful to her business and patrons. It is obvious that she cares about this bar.

Madison's is a dive bar. It's got a bunch of random stuff on the walls accumulated over the years. It serves your normal domestic beers plus a hand full of Great Lakes options. If you're hungry, they've got some random varieties of potato chips. What makes Madison's a bar worth visiting is everyone there, whether it be customer or staff, wants Madison's to be. We were welcomed by the people being paid to be their and the payers. They want their bar to be successful, to grow and, to bring in your business. This may not be the diviest bar but it may have been the most inviting. You should come check out bar #43, Madison's, they're waiting for you.

Real Life Hidden Picture Search:  Scuba Helmet, Ohio State Football, Alien, Thelma, Blue Car, Giant Stein,
British Chips, Victorian Booze, Robert Ebert, Elvis, Miller High Life, St. Pauli Girl, Mexican Bear, Indians

12401 Madison Ave.