Smile Politely

Bunny’s for the win

It was a week filled with intense games, unbelievable comebacks, and late nights. Then it was just over. Chicago saw 5 million people at the victory parade, including some C-U residents. I didn’t go to Chicago to watch the parade from Wrigleyville to Grant Park. I stayed in town. So, what to do on this momentous and yet mundane Friday night? It’s November 4th and a sunny 65 degrees. I can’t just stay at home. Going out is definitely the thing to do. But not just anywhere, it must have a patio because the day is just too nice to waste inside. Bunny’s Tavern is just the place. Since it is Friday, the Fish Fry is a must because you can’t get it any other day of the week.

The nice thing about Bunny’s patio is that there are two sections, one covered and heated and the other is open air. Both patios have regular tables and high top tables. I have been having some back issues lately and the ability to stand and dine has been a welcome relief. Also, the tables on the patio move easily to accommodate larger parties.

The staff may not know you by name but they recognize your face and more than likely they know you by your drinks. I am not offended by that at all. I worked in hospitality, and I remember Gin Martini up with an olive and White Zin very affectionately. It was always a pleasure to see them. Now, Blue Moon Draft without an Orange and Pinot Grigio with a Water sat on the covered patio.

Surprisingly (although it probably shouldn’t be) the TV replayed Game 7 of the Series. I watched the game, happy to relive the intensity of the event without all the uncertainty.

Neon lights shined from the windows across the patio. I personally love neon lights. They welcome everyone to come in and be as they are. Have some food. Have a drink. Have a few drinks. Come for lunch. Come for dinner. Come after work. Come for the evening. We will see you when you get here. Stay for the game. Stay for the inning. Stay for as long as you like. Even dogs feel comfortable here.

The choices for the Fish Fry are Beer battered Walleye ($6.25), dry battered or grilled cod ($7.50), and blackened salmon ($7.25). You could make it a basket with fries and coleslaw for $2.50 more. Mr. Blue Moon without an Orange had the blackened salmon to be healthy and Pinot Grigio with a Water probably should have taken the grilled cod but really couldn’t resist the dry battered with tartar sauce, especially with the fries. How is it that these fries taste so amazing and are always perfectly crisp? It doesn’t matter what day of the week or time of day, these fries are always quality.

The fish comes on a nicely grilled bun but I choose to eat mine it without. Look at the blackening of the salmon. Look at the flake of the batter of the meaty cod. Who needs the bun?

I picked up the fillets and dove in. I really shouldn’t eat with my fingers and take pictures because my camera gets dirty, but oh well. I did it for you, C-U.  Thankfully, the servers at Bunny’s bring you extra napkins without having to ask and the napkins are of high quality, a necessity for my messy fingers. A pet peeve of mine is having to ask for extra napkins only to get 1 extra flimsy napkin. When a restaurant does this, I leave thinking that the restaurant is cutting corners at the expense of the customer comfort.

Bunny’s was established in 1936. The first World Series game was broadcast in 1947. For those of you doing the math, this was the first time Bunny’s saw the Cubs win the World Series, but not the first time it saw the Cleveland Indians win. So I think that is fair.

The sounds of classic rock emanated through the air, as I crunched into my fish fry and looked around at the winning Cub game, watching the dog making friends with other patrons, enjoying the warm weather without a coat, and peered out at the beautiful fall colors. The Youngbloods on the speakers call me to, “Smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.” Today, that is easy. Later Stealers Wheel describe the scene around me, there are, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you,” Mr. Blue Moon without the Orange. It was a beautiful night. That night, it was Bunny’s for the Win.

Bunny’s Tavern is located at 119 W Water St, Urbana, and open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Fish Fry is available Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m.

Photos by Rebecca Johnson. 

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