Munch goes to The Map Room

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"The trick," Munch was informed, "is that you have to know how to sell it."

   

The Map Room is at 1126 Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Call 412-371-1955.

Suggestions? E-mail: munch@post-gazette.com.

   

The advisory was proffered by Former Roommate of Munch (FROM). "It" referred to spending a lazy afternoon cavorting and drinking beer with Munch. The selling of said activity was to be done deftly, as the buyer is the notoriously tough Wife of FROM, a k a the General.

The beefy barrister FROM has the professional disposition of "Entourage's" Ari Gold, yet is made to look like a trembling Shih-Tzu at the hands of the General. Needless to say then, as FROM looks at 30, certain loafing spots are now verboten, per the General's orders. Bars employing waitstaff dressed like Jessica Simpson's Dukes of Hazzard stand-ins hawking teal-colored shots in test tubes, wing joints with their own airline, clubs named after a Keanu Reeves trilogy or that host Girls Gone Wild! film crews ... not so much.

Instead, if the endeavor sounds quasi-intellectual, FROM can get a day pass from the General, albeit with much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

Enter the Map Room in Regent Square. This is a place where a fellow can do some thinking, and some drinking, neither of which is a bad thing.

The longtime former home of the Regent Square Tavern has cleaned up well with a new cartographic theme. Prints of old maps that are as much artistic as functional line the walls, with antique charts of the British Isles, Africa, India, North America, Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania represented. Patrons are greeted by a centuries-old map of the Western Hemisphere painted on a window by the entrance. A mural of an old map of the Hertfordshire region of England adorns the back wall of the dining room.

Decks of Trivial Pursuit cards sit at the bar for patrons to amuse and one-up one another while sipping pints in a clean, quiet area. This may also be the only bar in the known universe that keeps stacks of The Economist on hand for perusal, and that includes a lounge dead-smack next to The Economist's London headquarters, where Munch happened to stop for a pop while on vacation last year (really).

Lest Munch give the impression that the Map Room would have been Alistair Cooke's kind of place, FROM and Munch watched football on the plasma screen and tossed darts while getting our drink on with hoppy pints of the Homewood-based East End Brewing Company's Black Strap Stout, Belgian-style Witte, and our consensus fave, the limited-run Pedal Pale Ale ($4 each) served in German beer mugs.

A madras pants-wearing attorney with all the faux sophistication of Ron Burgundy, FROM stuffed his mush with an order of seven whole Buffalo Wings ($7). Good, but not quite spicy enough, he said, wiping the orange smears from across his cheeks. Munch sipped a pleasing cup of Homemade Crab Chowder ($3) dipped with a slice of Breadworks sourdough bread.

Clearly on a poultry jones, FROM opted for the Providence Chicken, an entree of blackened chicken and red peppers in a gorgonzola cream sauce over angel hair pasta ($12). Better than the General's mess chow, FROM reported, but still a little bland.

Munch supped on a Hot Salami and Cappicola Sandwich with melted provolone on a Breadworks baguette ($7). Basic but tasty, it got-r-dun, especially with the side of fresh-cut fries.

Drawn in by the novelty but not expecting much, Munch ordered a Root Beer float ($4) for dessert. But the soda jerk treat made with Hank's Premium Philadelphia Root Beer and French Vanilla Ice Cream and served in a beer mug proved to be delicious. Meanwhile FROM, who claims to be a Bread Pudding aficionado, lustily declared the Map Room's offering ($5) to be among the best in the area.

Sated by the grub and en route to a sousing from the suds, FROM even defied the chain of command by slapping off his cell phone when the General summoned. The stockade awaits. But an afternoon of good food and good beer in a relaxing atmosphere, well, even the General might let him go AWOL for that.



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