Once in a while a PR company pitches one of their clients to me and I think, "You do know majority of our websites readers are dykes and ‘mos, don't you?" For example, I had a call once about a new cookbook that emphasized "Christian Values". I have no problem with the true Christian values of acceptance and "do unto others", but when those two words are paired in quotation marks and both start with capital letters, I start to hear "Warning Will Robinson. Danger! Danger!"
Sometimes those warnings don't go off. That would explain that I listened to someone when she said I had to check out The Pony Inn on Belmont just west of Ashland. I don't mind mingling with the hets, some of my best friends are straight, but The Pony has got to be the straightest bar in Chicago. It's not anti-gay, don't get me wrong, but I don't think we don't even exist on their radar. My first thought was that there is nothing of interest here for the LGBT community.
That was before I beheld the beauty that is The Clydesdale. It is nearly a foot and a half long example of grilled cheese paradise. Toasted and buttered to crispy perfection, the thinly sliced whole wheat Pullman bread is loaded with melted American and cheddar cheeses. It is served with savory tomato basil dip, which makes it like that lunchtime fave grilled cheese and tomato soup. It is meant to be a table appetizer, but you won't want to give up one delicious, creamy bite. This sandwich is nine bucks worth of warm feelings. You can add bacon or ham for three bucks more, but why screw with perfection?
It pairs perfectly with The Pony's signature 24 ounce Bloody Mary made with Reyka Vodka and house made bloody mary mix. It arrives in a glass so tall you'll have to stand to drink it and garnished with house-smoked bacon, pickle, olive, celery, peppericini and a lime. Served with a Miller High Life pony for $12.
There are some other things, typical bar food; burgers, wraps pizzas, wings and the like. The only other notable dish that sampled was the fries tossed with sea salt and fried sage. Yum. The waffle fries nachos might have been good if the fries were fully cooked and the hot toppings were hot. But, they weren't. To be fair, we ordered them without chili as that made it the one entrée portion a vegetarian could enjoy.
You'd think that a place owned by the Pioneer Tavern Group, which also owns Lottie's and The Frontier, would be a little sharper about providing alternatives for those who don't eat meat. The service is perfectly friendly; though not very skilled (all of our dishes – apps and entrees- arrived at once) and seems to be more interested in each other than their customers. We were only one of two occupied tables and still had trouble flagging down our server.
The Pony Inn
1638 W Belmont Ave