Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Club Cafe

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Munch Goes to Club Cafe

Article excerpt

Wayback-machine time: Summer 1990s. A newly minted college graduate, Munch returns to the Pittsburgh motherland after five years mostly away. Having left as a suburban adolescent and returning as a young adult, Munch no longer knew Pittsburgh -- feeling, rather, like a stranger in a familiar place.

Looking to go all Chabon and explore the mysteries of Pittsburgh, Munch went to see a show at the Club Cafe on the South Side on a Friday night. Munch entered a smoke-filled cavern of punks, hipsters and rockers -- all exponentially cooler than Munch.

On the stage, in front of that twinkly starlight backdrop, in all of her plus-sized, tattooed, shaven head-with-long-pigtails glory was Phat Man Dee, crooning a cosmic cabaret. It was something of a yinz-reka moment where Munch realized there was more to this ol' Pittsburgh than inclines and fireworks.

Munch has since been to Club Cafe many times, for many drinks and many shows, during which time Munch's palate has graduated from Jager bombs to single-malt Scotch, and Munch's musical tastes have evolved from Third Eye Blind to Blind Lemon Jefferson.

After an ownership change last year, music-wise things at Club Cafe are virtually unchanged, but new wrinkles have emerged, including better drinks and now, every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., brunch.

The idea of eating at a Pittsburgh music institution, site of so many liquor-soaked midnight shows, was met with equal parts intrigue and skepticism. Seeing the place in the light of day was part of the draw -- with the curtains drawn, the place is surprisingly bright.

Munch and Dear One of Munch sat at a table on the stage, a perfect perch to peer out the panoramic window behind the stage (who knew?) at the streetscape. A double-decker tour bus went by. Young couples wrangled their kids. Hipsters smoked cigarettes out front, chatting with bikers who disembarked from their hogs to spend the afternoon next door at Jack's -- worlds colliding on a gorgeous South Side Sunday.

Club Cafe sans drink just felt wrong. Problem solved via an inspired brunch cocktail menu that includes plays on classics like the Morning After Manhattan ($9) -- made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, sweet vermouth and rounded out with Kahlua. …

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