Thursday, October 27, 2011

#236: Freaky Flower Friday

What's scarier than this jack-o-lantern?

Nothing.  Honestly, I can't think of anything more menacing than that pumpkin's face, but the South Bend Potawatomi Conservatories' "Freaky Flower Friday" promises to feature some equally frightening flora and fauna.

Trick-or-treaters and boo-tanists of all ages are invited to visit the Potawatomi Conservatories for an evening of horrifying horticulture, vexing vegetation, and delicious Halloween candy.  If you're asking yourself "how scary could a plant be?" take another look at the creep-o-lantern above.  That image will haunt my dreams, and I bet the folks at the conservatories have some spookier botany planned for tomorrow night.

Location: Potawatomi Conservatories, 2105 Mishawaka Ave, SB
When: Tomorrow!  Friday, October 28th from 6 to 8 pm
A Fun Freaky Fact: These conservatories are heated by computers owned by the University of Notre Dame, which is an especially green use of that energy.  So tomorrow evening when you escape the cold for a little Halloween fun, it's thanks to an eco-friendly example of collaboration between the City of South Bend and Notre Dame.
Warning: Don't eat the plants, just the Halloween candy - unless instructed otherwise by Potawatomi Conservatories staff...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#235: Club LaSalle

I imagine even the most infrequent reader of this blog is aware of our fondness for dive bars.  Earlier this year, we even dedicated a week to our favorite Michiana watering holes (Ewing CafeFrank's PlaceMidway, and more).  Personally, I'd be happy writing exclusively about dives for another 365 days.

That being said... every now and then, I think we all have a craving for the finer things in life.  There are moments when we want to indulge, but not be indulgent - treat or even pamper ourselves without extravagance.  For those evenings, I suggest Club LaSalle. (cue subtle jazz music, sound effects of soft laughter/conversation, aaand dim the lights)

Two floors above its dinning counterpart, LaSalle Grille, yet on the same level of quality, Club LaSalle is South Bend chic in all of the right ways.  If you can describe Fiddler's with a Guinness or Club 23 with a PBR, then perhaps a martini or even an old fashion would best characterize the atmosphere.  The low lighting, exposed brick, and upscale cocktails combine to make it classy, yet far short of stuffy.

Open at 5 pm and live music starting around 9:30 pm, Club LaSalle is great for that pre-dinner aperitif or post-dinner digestif, but not necessarily for a full night out because the music and service end before midnight.

Location: 115 West Colfax Ave, SB - 3rd floor
Hours: 5 pm to 12 am Monday - Saturday, closed Sunday
More info:
Tip #1: Club LaSalle can be hard to find on your first visit.  Walk down that little alley way in between LaSalle Grille and The Vine, and go in the back door of the LaSalle Grille.  Take the staircase on your left up 2 flights of stairs, and enter through the glass door.
Tip #2: check out the website for a schedule of their live musical acts almost every day of the week
My drink of choice at Club LaSalle: Manhattan

Friday, October 21, 2011

#234: Brewfest

I have highlighted a slew of beer-related events recently, and oenophiles and die-hard Smirnoff icers: I am sorry.

But I will argue -- save the lone winery in Granger and tequila tasting at Agave -- that this is a beer town.  Between South Bend and Elkhart, four breweries have arisen in the past two years.  You can find dollar drafts, rare crafts, and everything in between.
This weekend features the inaugural South Bend Brewfest.  This Saturday, before the USC-ND game, thirty-six breweries from around the world will be offering samples of 120 beers.  South Bend's Four Horsemen and Evil Genius will be present, and Granger's Bare Hands, whose brewery doesn't open for another month, will offer advance tasting.  You can find familiar brews as well, such as Blue Moon, Sam Adams, Woodchuck Cider, and Three Floyds.  For the complete list, check out the blog The Beer is Good.

Tickets cost $30 at the door, and your ticket gets unlimited tasting, a pint glass, a ticket for a food item, and a chance to win a range of raffle items.

Where: Century Center (outside on Island Park if the weather is nice)
When: Noon - 4 PM
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Tip: Designated driver tickets are only $10, which includes unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, a food ticket, and a raffle ticket.  Otherwise, TRANSPO is advised.  And don't forget your ID because obviously 21 and up-only event.  (Sorry college kids!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

#233: Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In support of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are many, many events in the area.  Here's a few of the upcoming events that represent the range of ways you can support this cause:

  • Pinkstock 2011: This third-annual night of music at Club Landing features six local bands (BLAMMO, Delusions of Granger, Stillshot, The Edge, Van Hamel, and Vyagra Falls).  ALL ticket proceeds (and a portion of the money earned from drinks!) go to the local Komen Northern Indiana office.  At Club Landing, 1717 Lincolnway East.  Friday Oct 14, 4:00-10:00 PM.
  • 3 Blonde Moms: A nationally-touring comedy show comes to Three Oaks, Michigan for a Sunday afternoon show.  Think "Desparate Housewives" on-stage.  Portion of the ticket sales goes toward breast cancer research.  Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Dr.  Sunday Oct 16, 4:00 Pm.
  • Breakthrough:  A free event at the Hilton Garden Inn that is geared to cancer patients, survivors, and their families.  There will be cancer support informational booths as well as a performance by Scott Burton, a cancer survivor and comedian.  Hilton Garden Inn, 53995 Route 933.  Thursday Oct 20, 6:00-8:00 PM.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#232: Get Historical II: House Detectives

Once upon a(nother) time, bog iron was discovered along the river in northwest Indiana.  A town was formed there, named after the Native American princess, Mishawaka, and it grew into a prosperous little town.  Not even a fire in 1872 that destroyed three-quarters of the businesses could wipe it off the map.  

As I was pontificating in my last post, I think architecture is great.  Why?  It's like a picture book, telling the story through icons.  If you are not able or willing or interested in walking around Downtown South Bend to learn about that city's history, perhaps I might interest you in this event.   This Saturday, at the Mishawaka Public Library (safe from the elements), Todd Zeiger of Indiana Landmarks will show participants how to research their home's history.  He will show you all the tools to delve into those dusty, dark corners of your home's past, to learn who has owned your house before and what's its role in the history of the city is.

While this seminar is free and open to anyone, pre-registration is required.  Contact Elicia D. Feasel at 574.235.9798 or

Where: Mishawaka Public Library, 209 Lincoln Way East
When: Saturday, Oct. 16; 9:30-11:30 AM

#231: Get Historical I: A Walking Tour of Downtown South Bend

Once upon a time, a trading post was established along a bend in a river.  It grew into a place where innovators and intellectuals came to dwell and disseminate their knowledge and products.  While these new settlements drove out the people who had been living off the land, this outpost enlarged into a bustling city, and its buildings reflect the different periods of expansion and renovation.

The architecture of a city tells a lot about its city, and South Bend is no different.  Learn more through a guided outdoor walking tour offered by Historic Preservation Commission of SB/SJC, DTSB, and Indiana Landmarks.  Tomorrow, this 1.5 hour tour starts at the American Trust Company clock and reviews the city's history (as seen through its landmarks) from Pierre Navarre's first arrival in 1820 to today.

While this wonderful learning experience would be a unique way to kick off a night in downtown South Bend, there are other opportunities to take the tour.  On October 21 and October 28 there will be one hour tours offered at noon (walking lunch break?).

Also, as a true 21st century city would have it, there are cell-phone tours available...for free!  Just download the guide here and call 574.307.7006.

When: Friday, Oct. 14; 6:00-7:30 PM
Where: Tour begins and ends at American Trust Company clock at the corner of Washington and Michigan Streets
Cost: FREE!

Reservations are recommended -- call DTSB at 574-282-1110 or to reserve a spot

Monday, October 10, 2011

#230: Drum Circle at Jon Hunt Plaza

On Tuesday evenings, "from 7 till whenever," you will find an unusual happening in downtown South Bend.  Stroll over to the Jon Hunt Plaza, across from the Morris Theater, near the beautiful fountain, for something a little different. 

The fact that a large group of people coalesces in an urban center should not be a surprise; who and what you might find might be.  Drummers, dancers, fire name it.  Come see for yourself (while the weather's still great) how South Bend moves its own beat.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

#229: Double T's Bar-b-que

Hungry?  Look no further.  I am a self-proclaimed BBQ advocate, and I am here to tell you that you should go to Double T's.  It's good BBQ, the finger-lickin' napkin-stickin' paper plate-breakin' straight-to-your-gut type of good.

Just as with Four Horsemen Brewing Co. and beer, Double T's knows its product and focuses on perfecting it.  They have won the first place at the College Football Hall of Fame Cook-off.  The menu offers alternative options for those not inclined toward meat slathered in a rich spicy tomato-based sauce, but go to Polito's or Mazatlan if you want something else.  Don't come here for a nice dinner with a pleasant atmosphere -- TV's blare and the decorations are dive bar worthy -- come here for the BBQ.

This, however, makes it a perfect pre- or post-game destination, when one's main objective is good food that'll fill you up fast.  I will say that beer, an essential sidekick to this sort of meal, is available, both on draft and in bottles.  But you will need to ring the beer bell.  They're not kidding about that; they're serious about the barbeque.

Where: 415 N. Hickory Road
When:  Sun, 12:00–6:00pm; Mon Closed; Tue-Thu 11:00am–9:00pm; Fri-Sat 11:00am–10:00pm
The different tray sizes available 
Tip: Really love their stuff?  Get your next event catered by Double T's.  They offer various sizes of barbequed meat dishes (including the $73 Pig Pen), as well as full service dinners, complete with sides and desserts.  Check their menu here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

#228: Northern Indiana Poetry Slam, First Fridays

First Fridays does College Night.  At least that's the theme for this week, very suitable seeing as the gorgeous weather and ND home game against Air Force is looking like it's bringing in the population from Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio (combined).   Even if you're not a college student, it's the month of Halloween, so dress up like one and you'll fit right into the milieu.

Last year, we highlighted the annual chili cook-off that occurs this month.  It's a wonderful event, so check out that post for more details.

Tonight features a range of events from a toga party at Marigold's to an "art hunt" around downtown South Bend.  What sounds particularly intriguing is the Northern Indiana Poetry Slam, hosted by J.W. Basilo.  Participating poets should arrive at 6:30, when doors open.  Basilo alone seems like he'd be a reason enough to attend.  He's a World Poetry Slam Finalist and a creator of work "equal parts poignant and perverse" -- you can check out his website at  
J.W. Basilo

Description reads: If you consider yourself a poet, or ever thought it would be fun to give it a try, college night is the perfect place for you! If you do not want to compete, you are welcome to come and cheer, or slam, the artists of your choice.  Agreed --  the casual atmosphere of First Fridays takes away the fear factor of trying out new things (whether it's wine tasting at South Bend Chocolate Company or palm reading at Junk Evolution).  And you have a month to regain your dignity until the next First Friday rolls around.

For a complete listing of First Friday events, click here.

When: 7:00 - 9:00
Where: 123 Michigan Ave.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#227: Four Horsemen Brewing Co.

The Mishawaka Brewing Company was Indiana's second-oldest brewpub, and it was a sad day for fans of its restaurant and unique brews when The Brew Pub closed in 2008.  In some places, the iconic Four Horsemen Ale was still offered.  However, its distribution was limited.

Luckily, others had a wider vision for this brand.  Brothers Ben and Sam Roule bought the rights to this beer, as well as much of the abandoned equipment, and have started a new brewery just south of downtown South Bend.  It has a complete brewing and bottling operation, as well as a tasting room that's open Thursday-Sunday.

A couple weeks ago, I met up with friends after work there.  Its early closing hours make it an ideal spot for a post-work happy hour.  Although the room only seats 50, we ran into friends from the area with the same idea: to wind down after work by testing out what South Bend beer might taste like!

(The answer: pretty darn good.)

To get to the tasting room, you must cross through their offices, and a chain-link gate separates drinkers from the workers.  It's a reminder of the work goes into making a craft beer, and instead of a being detrimental to the ambience, it rather adds to the experience.  The bright steel bar and stools add to the industrial feel.  

When I visited, there were four beers on tap, and the friendly bartender was happy to break out the tasting glasses to give me samples of all four (for free).  No substantial food is offered (unless you consider bagged pretzels or dine-in from Dew Drop!), nor will you find a dartboard or pool table -- this place is all about the beer.   And sometimes, that's exactly what you're looking for.
Keeping the ND+Brewery theme alive.
When: Thursday - Friday, 4:00-8:00 PM; Saturday-Sunday, Noon- 4:00PM
Where: 710 Fellows St. (off Sample St.), South Bend.  The parking lot is small, but there is plenty of street parking.
Tip: Try their newly released Pale Ale!

ND Tip: Looking for an alternate venue for tailgating?  Look no further: Four Horsemen is open ND home game Saturdays beginning at 9:00 AM.