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Entries in Siimon's Tavern (1)


Friday, April 30th, 2010—Bar 110

Day 110—Thursday, April 30th, 2010

Simon’s Tavern

Okay, if you’re reading this before 11:00 am this morning, turn on the John Williams Show on WGN Radio 720, where I’ll be interviewed sometime around 11:00 this morning. It’s been 17 years since I wormed my way onto John’s show way back when he was in Peoria, so tune in to catch the Chicago fun! If you’re reading this after 11:00 am, well, you’re as the say, shit out of luck. But there is a new bar to check out and it’s last night’s first Chicago stop!

Simon’s bar was suggested by my friend Aaron the drummer for the Joans, so I told a few other Chicago friends and the following is our trip to Simon’s. Garfukel’s refused to comment. So there!

Okay, I'm in the Peoria terminal, waiting to fly to Chicago. it's a little boring so time to look at something more interesting...

Woo hoo!

I hate these little puddle-jumpers that go back and forth from Peoria to Chicago. I call them, "Buddy Holly Specials."

The good news is the flight only lasts 30 minutes. Hello Chicago!

The bad news is, the cab ride to the hotel is longer than the flight.

But here I am, my new home away from home for two days, the Best Western on Broadway.

But this isn't a guy walks into 365 Best Western's, it's a guy walks into 365 bars, so baboom, here we are at Simon's.

Looks like a nice Chicago joint. Hey, who's this guy?

Why it's Josh! Cheers, Josh, you're on 365 camera!

Seeing Josh with his drink made me thirsty and bartender Patrick quickly served me up a cold beer to remedy the situation.

My sidekick for the entire evening was 365 commentator Biff, who drove to Chicago for the fun. Hi, Bifferoonie!

There's side tables opposite the bar for ample seating.

Here's the guy who suggested the place, Aaron. I mentioned before Aaron drums for the Joans, check them out here, a fun and great band: The Joans.

Here's Bill and Margaret who had some suggestions for bars in New York for me to visit, which I added to my list.

Simon's has a great old school jukebox with an eclectic menu ranging from Robert Gordon to Elastica to Television to The Clash to the O'Jays and everyone in between.

Here's Karla and Eric. Eric's a teacher and Karla's a writer. She's got a whole bibliography on Amazon, check it out here: Karla's Goddamn Bibliography on Amazon. She's also got an app, I don't know what that really is, but she has one, look: Karla's Goddamn App.

And now it's time for dueling photography part one: Myself versus Karla!

Here's a woodsy moment on the wall.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's The Handcuffs! Brad Elvis and Chloe F. Orwell join the fun at Simon's!

And they're back(s), by popular demand, The Handcuffs, woo hoo!

And here everyone is...hey, where's Clare?

Quit hiding behind Brad, Clare, step out and face the music! Okay, maybe tomorrow (stay tuned for a picture tomorrow of the elusive Clare!)

Okay, here my notes are a little garbled, I hope this is Melissa and Amy, but it might be Jennifer and Laura, but I think it's Melissa and Amy. Anyway, they wished me well on the bar crawl and were very cool.

Here I am being super-charged being in the midst of the beauty of Chloe F. Orwell and Emily E. Schein.

Which can only lead to Dueling Photography Part II: Myself versus Emily!

Okay, garbled notes part II, I think this is Jennifer and Laura, but it might be Melissa and Amy, either way, Biff and I met them at the restaurant before the bar and shared part of our dinner because we over ordered (which is always better than under-ordering, I say) and they said they'd buy us a drink, and true to their word, they showed up! **Update: It turns out I was correct, I just got an email from Laura saying that the second picture is indeed correct after all! Thanks, Laura and thanks for the drinks!

Here's Lisa, Joanna and Anthony who were supportive of the 365 Bar Crawl idea and were fun to chat with.

Here's myself, Biff and Brad performing our version of what I like to call, "The Three Lips Penny Opera." Yep, it's getting late folks.

Time to go home, goodnight everybody!


Okay, it’s almost 9:00 in the morning, I want to get this posted before I do the John Williams Show on WGN. I still need to shower and shave and do all my morning ritual stuff and write this review...what will I do... what will I do? I know, I’ll cheat, below is what Simon’s has to say about themselves, via their website. And I know this isn’t an official review, since they’re biased, but I had a great time last night, I have to get up and running and I’m on vacation, so leave me alone! Oh Simon’s...

Since 1934, Simon’s ceramic and glass block-clad façade has appeared like a beacon in the night to pub-goers of all nationalities with its neon sign depicting a fish holding a martini. This fish turns out to be a double entendre – “pickled herring” – which is a delicacy in Sweden. Get it? Right...

Once inside you may notice that, in contrast to the dirty gray linoleum floor and drop ceiling with questionable-looking tiles, the long, worn mahogany bar that runs long the south wall offers a touch of class. In front of the bar lies a curved upholstered booth that lies just under a small rectangular window in front lit with blue light bulbs. The design of the bar was modeled after a steamship like the triple-stacked Normandy etched into the mirror behind the cash register and below the Swedish and Norwegian flags behind the bar. Blue backlit portholes glow from the bar’s wooden backdrop below a yellow stucco wall, and an interesting array of Viking paraphernalia that includes: statues, a horned helmet, a shield, an axe, Viking ships, wooden carvings, and a small Viking warrior skewering a bowling pin with what looks like a trident.

While Simon’s may be the only bar in Chicago with an axe on display, the Viking helmet is particularly notable for two reasons. First of all, the Vikings did not wear helmets, let alone helmets with horns on them. Secondly, Simon’s has an ongoing, unadvertised bar contest: if you can spot the five hidden animals in the lodge mural across from the bar, you can drink for free during the entire evening while wearing the helmet.

“This is the way a tavern used to be—no ferns, glass or peppy waitresses” – Ethnic Chicago (1993) Beyond the bar lies a small lounge area, complete with two of your grandmother’s worn couches in the back, sans plastic, along with black & white pictures of a parade and a shuffleboard scene, and a red brick fireplace that warms chilly patrons. Illuminating the “back room” is a stained glass window depicting two crowned pickled herrings (drinking martinis) with little Swedish flags in the corners, backlit with light coming from the room behind.

(Wow, they can really blather on about themselves, can’t they! Oh well, it was a great night and you should check out Simon’s the next time you’re in Chicago.)

Simon’s Tavern

5210 N. Clark (@ Foster) Chicago, Illinois