Whooping-it-up revelers were dancing on barstools in Club 185 one night a few weeks ago. Sure, it was peak party season - that wobbly stretch of bottle cap and cork-popping days between Christmas and New Year's - but the truth is, 185 is consistently packed with laughing people.
They show up for a sip and a break from their everyday travails in 185's comfy-as-an-old-friend's-den confines. There's the vintage, original pressed tin ceiling; a slatted wooden floor that's seen its share of vociferous celebrants; a folk-artsy mural that informs the neighborhoody hangout's been open "Since 1954;" and exposed brick walls - this is German Village after all.
But good-timing clubbers also meet to eat 185's beloved pub grub. To most chowhounds around town, that means the place's famous diner-style cheeseburgers and handcut fries. I count myself in that greasy-fingered crowd, but this time I wanted to write about 185's worthy daily specials.
Thus did I lurch in during lunch last week to observe the accommodating old joint bustling predominantly with members of the buttoned-down workforce. That they were having more fun than a bunch of lunchtimers ought to could partially be attributed to the Thursday-only special.
That would be the Buffalo-style Beef on Weck ($8). Simultaneously soothing and brash, it's a homemade roast-beef sandwich that's proof the blizzard capital should be lauded for more foods than just hot wings.
What the heck's a weck? It's short for "kummelweck," the kosher salt-studded and caraway-seeded kaiser roll that houses the meat ("kummel" is German for caraway and "weck" is the third "w" in BW3, though the chain no longer offers this sandwich locally).
At 185, you'll get a buffa-load of thinly hand-sliced, warm, very nice roast beef. It'd be juicy enough to disintegrate most buns, but not the excellent, stiff kaiser roll 185 uses. Plus, the spicy seeds and coarse salt really perk up the mouth-massaging medium-rare beef (as will a slather of the provided horseradish). On the side are house-made kettle chips that flatter the sandwich.
Sundays bring a steal of a deal of salad and a titanic slice of lasagna ($9.25). The salad ain't bad, a bit more than an afterthought with its decent greens and tart balsamic vinaigrette. But, oh, that mammoth lasagna!
Unfancy to the point of charming, it's surrounded by a moat of no-nonsense tart tomato sauce with rafts of Texas toast floating in it. The two-time-zone huge pasta palace is a supremely comforting castle constructed with a lotto ricotta plus sausagey meat.
Warning: Do not attempt to eat this behemoth by yourself. It'll unduly slow down your barstool dance.