Burger N Brew 

Disclaimer: When I go to a place called "Burger N Brew," my expectations are reasonable: I'm going for a burger and a beer. I'm not looking for "Filet Mignon and Chimay."

Now that that's out of the way, I got home from a grueling day at work, snagged the IT Guy and headed to B and B for a laid-back meal.

When we arrived, there were a handful of customers scattered around the place. We were led by a friendly hostess to a booth with a perfect view of the TVs behind the bar and everyone being Mad about March. With a basic and varied pub-food menu, and myriad microbrews and domestics to choose from, I picked the menu item the place must be best known for: I ordered a burger. A basic cheeseburger with Swiss, extra pickles and a green salad on the side. The IT Guy, being a big fan of battered, deep-fried meat products, ordered finger steaks with fries and a 20-ounce Budweiser.

The food came quickly and looked delicious. The mixed salad greens were all the right shade of green and came with a couple of big slices of cucumber and tomato. The finger steaks were plentiful and stacked on fries that looked (and tasted) like they'd been cooked in fresh oil. My burger was thick and well done, which was fine by me, and the extra pickles were in place. I dabbed a little Grey Poupon on the bun and got down to business. My burger was delish. I cut it in half, thinking that I'd have a treat for later, but only minutes after I started, the whole thing was gone and I didn't get any help from the IT Guy, who was sorry he didn't jump on my offer of half.

The finger steaks were piping hot but not delish. In his words, "They're pasty, and the sauce is not helping." We cut several of the steaks in half--as we were sure they'd been made with hamburger--to find that the batter on each one was quite thick. We hypothesized as to why the steaks had the consistency of peanut butter, but never came up with a reasonable answer. We tried dipping them in BBQ sauce to mask the texture and possibly enhance the flavor, but that didn't work at all. It had an unidentifiable, unpleasant taste and we decided that even an award-winning sauce couldn't save the doomed bits of meat. I was determined to send them back, but the IT Guy isn't much of a fan of confrontation and after polishing off his fries, my salad and his giant bowl of beer, he felt full. Not satisfied, but full.

Our bill was only $20, my burger was tasty and the service was friendly. So even though we didn't experience fine dining, we didn't expect it. We'll go back again. We won't order the finger steaks, but we'll go back. As we stepped outside, it was raining but the sun was also shining and a brilliant rainbow shot across the sky. Any night that includes beer, fries and a rainbow is never a total loss.

—Amy Atkins drinks her brew through a curlycue straw.

Burger N Brew, 4295 W. State St., 345-7700. Sun.-Thu.: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. -Sat.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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