Burger N Brew 

Lately, things have been a little lonely around here. Mistaking that lonesome feeling in my gut for hunger, I decided to find a fix. I headed down to the Burger N Brew on State Street for some food and friendliness.

I strolled in and took a big whiff of fried foods. "This is the place to fill that hole in my stomach (heart)," I thought. There's a full bar, free popcorn, a labyrinth of televisions and the largest picture of "Dogs Playing Poker" I have ever laid my lonely eyes on. An uppity waitress seated me. I took a gander at the menu and decided on chicken wings, a cheeseburger with fries and a Bud Light. My beer came fast. I took a swig and made a comment to the guy reading at the next table. "Studying huh?" I asked. "Yeah, trying to," he said as he hunched closer to his book. I grimaced. The snub was minimized when I heard and old friend come over the radio: Josh Rouse. I nodded my head to the great tune. I don't know if it was the friendly music or the hops in my belly—but I was digging it.

My food arrived from a smiling staff member. The chicken wings were dry and had a chemical taste. I couldn't quite place it so I tenaciously kept eating them, thinking I could figure it out. I didn't. When the waitress came back I asked for some silverware. Et voila, minutes later, a roll of tobacco showed up. "Terri said you wanted a cigarette," the girl said sheepishly. "Huh?" I'm not sure how she got "cigarette" from "silverware," but I have a hunch it could've been from the chemicals I tasted in the chicken. I declined the offer and reiterated my need for utensils. The waitress looked highly disappointed.

I surveyed the scene again. Music: still good. X Men 2 was on the boob tube. I got to watch a mutant assassin attempt to kill the president while I munched on something that tasted radioactive. My loneliness and hunger had been completely replaced by worry and apprehension about the cheeseburger I was about to eat.

I picked it up, winced and took a bite. It was good. What a relief. Minutes later I looked down and saw two lonely fries on my plate. I had consumed nearly everything—even the pickles. OK, beer=good, burger=good. I understand the restaurant's name now.

As I was leaving, I heard Wilco singing "Outta Mind (Outta Sight)" ... I nodded my head right out the door.

—Ryan Peck prefers hunger to loneliness.

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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