The second time I visited, a couple weeks later, it was a decidedly warmer night but not by much. Friends and I had gone to Tandem on Congress (I'm still not impressed with the place) for a Hear Tell series talk on crushes and being crushed. It was a great event with six stories of love and heartache. Nothing like a little perspective to put life in order...
After the event, we walked over to Bramhall for dinner. We sat down at the same back corner table against the brick wall and candlelit "fireplace." Drinks were ordered and food was considered. Les got a Hell Hound: Reposado teuila, Campari, ruby red grapefruit juice and ginger beer. I opted for a Screwdriver with a dash of grapefruit because it made me feel like I was on the beach, someplace very warm...It helped until I realized I was freezing and put my coat back on. Dress warmly in the winter for visits to Bramhall. It's a spectacular place but is also in a brick basement!
When we ordered food, a Cubano (shaved jerk seasoned pork loin, bacon onion jam, fontina cheese, bread and butter pickles, sweet and spicy mustard on a toasted hoagie), the BBQ roasted pork loin special (served with black bean salsa, chive cheddar mashed potatoes, apple cabbage slaw, pickles and Boston baked beans), and the House burger (Archer Angus beef and applewood smoked bacon patty, tomato, pickled red onions, spicy ketchup, and cheddar on a large English muffin) were chosen. All were tasty in their own ways but I will have to experience the Cubano next time. I only had a bite of Leslie's and I wanted it all! The burger was also great. I eat beef very rarely and this was a good choice.
MAPS was my next location to conquer. It was a new favorite of Jessie's and I wanted to gooooooo! On the way there however, I was sidetracked by the glowing orbs in the Salt Cellar. Seeing as how I was focused on basement spaces, I was drawn down the steps and into the store. I walked into a world of glowing orangy-pink air-cleansing lamps, Dead Sea soaking salt displays and the American Heart Association's worst nightmare: a wall of salts to taste. Flavors were endless and included ginger, hickory, ghost pepper, merlot wine (what??), tomato, black truffle (above and beyond the best), vanilla bean, espresso, lime citrus, spicy curry and Sriracha.
After deciding I needed to ask for a salt lamp or two next Christmas and buying a small gift or two, I moved down the block to MAPS on Market Street. The door handle alone is super cool (see below). I walked down the stairs to a great atmosphere and immediately felt comfortable. I sat at the bar, closest to the ultra beautiful red espresso machine and ordered a limited edition Cheeky Cherry hard cider from Woodchuck's "fancier" line. Per the bartenders recommendation, I cut the decently sweet but very good cider with a bit of the Franziskander Weissbier (a Munich, Germany beer that MAPS buys as many kegs as available because its so flipping good). As I waited for my partner in crime to arrive, I read a bit of my book (I LOVE reading at bars, etc much to my friends' chagrin), listened to Iron and Wine and "accidentally" ordered the "English" grilled cheese. It just jumped at me and I had to do it! Plus it sounded hella tasty with Cabot aged cheddar, garlic jam from Stonewall Kitchens, and diced red onions pressed and grilled on fresh Portuguese bread.
I was at MAPS for a total of a few hours and loved it all, from the vibe, the bartenders kindness and knowledge, the food, drinks, all of it. Go and you may see me reading at the bar on my day off!
The final basement location was a surprise as we went out to Taco Escobarr. Street level if you didn't know. But as we were drinking our house-crafted margaritas and eating our dinners, I overheard something. Two men walked in and recognized the couple sitting next to us.
"What are you doing here!?" she said.
"I live upstairs. This is my basement."
What a coincidence!! and here I thought I was just eating another random meal of some damn fine tacos. In someone's basement. The four of us in my party thought crispy tacos with the rice, beans and salad was a fine choice. We all happened to order something different: spicy chicken, pulled pork, sweet potato, chorizo, carne asada, ground beef and shrimp and from what I heard, there were no complaints! I did have an ultra-dangerous mango-tangerine margarita as it tasted like juice.
Another successful research mission of multiple wonderful establishments. On to the next!