Munch is in the summertime of life and barreling hard and fast toward autumn. Where are all of life's milestones? Derek Jeter has recorded his 3,000th hit. Harry Potter has finally vanquished his silver-screen rival. J-Lo is now working on her fourth husband. Munch's pals are all getting raises or having babies or investing in Botox treatments.
Munch, on the other hand, is scraping together lunch money week after week. The duff is getting bigger, the paycheck smaller and the Gloomy Gourmand's shtick is wearing threadbare.
"I need a change," Munch mused to second-cousin Elroy, who's a good sounding board when Munch is singing the blues, on account of his sunny disposition. "As Lloyd McClendon might have said, I'm scuffling a little bit."
"You're ugly, too."
"Say, whatever happened to your sunny disposition?"
"Lost it in the divorce."
"That's too bad. Still, I could use a milestone in my life. Any bright ideas?"
"I hear there's one on Brownsville Road."
Munch left Elroy alone to write out his various alimony checks, hopped in the deteriorating Munchmobile and ended up in Brentwood, casting about for this alleged Milestone. And there it was at 2809 Brownsville Road, a former bank building and now a spacious public house with two dozen beers on tap.
Two dozen, you say? Things are looking up already. Often, Munch has found, a cold beer is all it takes. Some interesting drafts populate the tap list here -- Abita Purple Haze, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, a house brew made by Full Pint, and a few others Munch didn't recognize but will be certain to try on a return visit.
Milestone, which turns 3 this month, has hit its own milepost of sorts, transitioning from a new bar with a whole lot of potential (but no food or working taps) into a grown-up bar with a full menu and actual air conditioning. The bar staples are omnipresent: wings, subs, hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, all manner of fried starters and just enough salads (four) that the trans-fat police don't raid the place.
Munch tried to order the wings but was told that they were still thawing. Well, hey, these things happen on a Monday, do they not? Pinch-hitting for the wings (35 cents on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) were the fried provolone sticks ($4), five to an order and dressed in marinara. They were hot, and they were cheesy, which is about all you can really ask of a cheese stick. If it doesn't meet that threshold, something's gone seriously wrong, daddio.
Monday night is $3 meatball sub night, which you'll note is $2 cheaper than the ones advertised in those infernal $5 footlong commercials. Munch loves a bargain (see the part above about the paycheck) and wasn't disappointed with the sub, about four generous meatballs on a toasted roll, draped in cheese. Soda and a beer brought the full tab to less than $13.
Good deal. Still, Munch has mixed feelings about the Milestone. No doubt that this place aims to be a bar first and an eatery second (or third, or fourth). But Munch sees great possibility for this space as a neighborhood dining spot -- the tall ceilings with exposed duct work; the lovely question-mark-shaped bar topped with rough-hewn woodworking; the hanging lights. Its vaguely industrial milieu is reminiscent of Double Wide Grill on the South Side, and this place has enough square footage that if it gets a better menu together, it could draw a nightly game crowd.
It reminds me, in fact, of a place about four miles away called Redbeard's, which a decade ago was a certified dive bar. Slowly but surely, it built its menu and its clientele. Now it's a place you'd be unafraid to take your mom and pop to grab a sandwich and watch the game.
Can Milestone be that sort or bar someday? Does it even aspire to be? Munch doesn't have the answers, but of all the spots on Brownsville between Route 51 and Mount Oliver, this one is the one where you're most likely to find Munch gnawing on a sandwich and sipping on a pint of something frosty. If you don't recognize Munch, it's probably because of all the Botox injections.
Milestone, 2809 Brownsville Road, Brentwood. 412-207-7161. Open seven days. Munch@post-gazette.com or look for Munch von Munchausen.