BEST BAR FOOD
Brickhouse Grill & Pub
3136 W. Iles Ave., 546-2745
219 S. Fifth St., (downtown), 679-1500
OK, you’ve got your cheeseburgers, your horseshoes, your nachos, your chicken wings, your seared ahi tuna steak salad. Huh? Brickhouse combines standard tavern fare with a hint of the exotic that doesn’t go too far. Sure, they have plenty of ketchup for your fries, but Brickhouse also offers such treasures as cucumber wasabi dipping sauce for breaded-and-fried portabella mushrooms. The staff thinks things out here, and your taste buds are the better for it. Brickhouse added a second location this year in downtown Springfield, and what a fine move it was for anyone who relishes cut-above pub grub.
Runner-up: Darcy’s Pint
Brickhouse Downtown, 217 S. Fifth St., 679-1500
Anna Bussing is an audiologist, an actress and one heck of a waitress, Best of Springfield voters have decided. The three occupations go hand in hand, says Brad Isaacs, a general manager at the downtown Brickhouse, where Bussing has been waiting tables since the grill and pub’s March opening. “She’s very friendly, very outgoing, everybody seems to like her,” he says. “I wish I could clone 20 of her.” Bussing was born and raised in Springfield and is active in the local theater scene (she just wrapped up The Drowsy Chaperone at the Legacy Theatre), but you might also recognize her from her previous jobs at The Creek in Chatham and The Corner Pub on Iles. Best of Springfield voters are also rather fond of the entire staffs at D’arcy’s Pint, Charlie Parker’s, Hooters and TGI Friday’s.
BEST BAR SERVER
BEST BEER SELECTION
617 E. Washington St., 525-6399
You might think you know a lot about beer – until you step into Brewhaus. With arguably the widest variety of lagers, ales, stouts and more, Brewhaus was a beer-lover’s boot camp for this year’s best bartender, Andrew Denton. “I learned pretty much everything I know from them,” says Denton, who left Brewhaus and its best beer selection this past spring to become American Harvest Eatery’s bar manager. He says Brewhaus owner Mike Parkes has an encyclopedic knowledge of beverages, making him “basically a walking Mr. Boston,” or a bartender’s bible. Add Kate Catalano, best bar server, to the mix and Brewhaus earns another Best of Springfield hat trick – a feat deserving of a few rounds, yes?
Sean Keeley at Ross Isaac
A perennial winner in this category, Keeley, who opened his own place after stints at such stalwarts as Indigo and Sebastian’s Hideout, keeps things familiar but imaginative with a core menu of entrees that includes ahi tuna, filet mignon and the best rack of lamb in the city. The food is the freshest available and cooked simply but thoughtfully without accoutrements overpowering the centerpiece. Consider the Mediterranean platter, an appetizer consisting of grilled vegetables, hummus, roasted garlic olives and flatbread. It doesn’t get simpler than this, and that’s more than OK, considering it’s always just-right and perfect with most everything on the entrée menu.
Runner-up: Michael Higgins at Maldaner’s