3707 N. Southport Ave. (3700N, 1200W)
Chicago, IL 60613
T. Mellon's Hye Bar, known simply as "The Hye Bar" for short, is an interesting addition to an area filling up with "Irish pubs." Rather than being Irish, the Hye Bar is actually a Scottish Pub with "hye" being short for the "highlands" of Scotland. While it doesn't serve food or have the Scotch selection of the Duke of Perth, the Hye Bar stands out for being a great barroom with a waitstaff that knows how to pull a mean pint of Guinness, and is a great alternative to Cullen's up the block when it's too crowded (which is often).
Although not that large, the Hye Bar is rather spacious and has plenty of wood: wooden floors, a wooden bar, and wood paneling that extends to the wooden shelves that hold a variety of bar knick-knacks a few feet below the tin ceiling. In the summertime, the wood-paneled windows open out and, for the sobrietally-challenged, there is a giant brass bar to keep you from falling out into the potted plants.
In the unlikely event you find yourself bored, you can pass the time by eating their free pretzels or flavored Tootsie Rolls, and watching the fish in the giant aquarium behind the bar. Further entertainment can be found with the Irish and Scottish bartenders, and patrons like the married woman that was hitting on a friend of mine one night. The Hye Bar also features live music on Sundays. This same friend of mine related what he calls the "CIA Story," to me another night, in which he fends off a drunk gay dude and picks up an attractive 40-year-old blonde, living in the Gold Coast, that turns out to be a CIA agent.
My advice: go for an inexpensive Thai meal at Once Upon a Thai next door and come round to the Hye Bar for a few pints of Guinness afterwards. Or, stop by the Hye Bar after work or before you head out to more adventurous activities. I once attended a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) event early one Friday evening, when it was all you could drink Miller Lite and four Domino's pizzas for $0.25. I got my money's worth, I'll tell you. This was evidenced when I tried to enter the second women's bathroom (thinking it was the men's) and when I hit someone over the head with a package of Ritz crackers I had brought with me (fearing there would not be enough free pizza). And guys, be forewarned: there is an electronic sensor that will turn the light off in the men's bathroom if you don't keep moving every five seconds. Otherwise, you'll exprience the very odd feeling of pissing in the dark with another dude standing right next to you.
The Hye Bar is also a good place to go after dinner parties. I found myself there one night for a birthday party / $20 all-you-can-drink-fest after an "Australia Day" celebration that was hosted, strangely enough, by a Frenchman. The party, as any involving Australians, was notable for many reasons. First of all, it was an interesting mix of Aussies, French, Americans, and a lone Canadian. This combination is a result of multinational ex-patriots mingling together at the Irish Oak, and an Australian girl that caught the attention of a Frenchman there. Secondly, was the Americans trying to impress everyone with their French-speaking skills, while the Australian girls where heard saying things like, "cowboy cock-sucker lipstick," "come fuck-me boots," and words like "bonzer" (pronounced "bonz-ah") and "ripper" ("rip-pah") used to describe the smorgasbord of food presented. The best chicken shish kabobs I've ever had were also served. Their smoky flavor was the result of grilling in an enclosed outdoor space and pouring lots of vodka on the fire to keep it going. Also of note regarding the food was the Pavlova ("pav" – lightly browned meringue covered in whipped cream, strawberries and kiwis) and Lamingtons ("Lam-os" – vanilla sponge cake covered in a layer of chocolate and ground coconut). Much of this spread was washed down with Merlot made by an Australian vineyard called "Barwang" and bottles of King's Lager – what seems like a Crown Lager (a.k.a. "Crownie") knock-off (another Victorian ale). The Australian booze was purchased at Pelly's Liquors on Lincoln, just north of Roscoe, which has an excellent selection of beer and wine from around the world. One can even find Zywiec there, so popular at Jedynka. Lastly, and of particular interest, was the girl who was showing off her lacy g-string (a bit of a two-pot screamer, if you asked me), and a Frenchman that I was talkin' Chicago Bears and playoff football with. I must say, he knew his football, which surprised the hell out of me. All in all, a great night capped off with a few Stellas at the Hye Bar.
Like its big brother Cullen's located a few doors up the block, the Hye Bar has a good unpretentious neighborhood feel to it, attracts some pretty good looking women, and is a great place to enjoy a drink or three. For more information, check out the Hye Bar website. Céad Míle Fáilte! (Translation: a hundred thousand welcomes)
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Hye Bar July 2008
Hye Bar Circa 2002