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Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013

Two Heads for Hi Hat

From deluxe to dressed-down on Brady Street

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Though they share the same kitchen, the Hi Hat Lounge and Hi Hat Garage are very different in character. The Lounge opened in 1998 in an old Cream City brick schoolhouse. It has an intriguing interior. The street level is actually a balcony overlooking the cavernous lower bar. This is a place made for cocktailing. The Garage is several years newer. The former auto-repair shop has been cleverly remodeled. There are trees everywhere, a bar with a metal surface and glass garage doors that stand open on warmer days. This is more of a beer and a shot type of setting. The Lounge is popular for its weekend brunch, when waits for a table are common. Weekday lunches at the Garage are far more tranquil.

The menu is the same at both venues and has been recently updated. There are portobello tarts and tomato bruschetta perfect for those nursing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot at the Lounge, and jumbo burgers and grilled chicken wings ideal for casual Garage patrons. In other words, a diverse menu. The crab cakes ($9) are most unusual. They are actually green in color thanks to the addition of cilantro. Though they’re a bit starchy, the subtle flavor of blue crab pulls through. They are accompanied by a corn relish with onion, red pepper and scallion and a few dabs of lemon aioli. These clearly are not Maryland-style crab cakes. The wedge salad ($5) belongs at a steakhouse. The iceberg lettuce wedge is drizzled with blue cheese dressing and crumbled blue cheese, bacon and miniature tomatoes accompany it on the plate. The daily soups ($3–$4.75) tend to be quite good, especially the puréed corn chowder with a swirl of creamy goat cheese.

Hi Hat produces some decent burgers; when they say a half-pound of meat they mean it. The Certified Black Angus beef patties are juicy, as they should be, and are served with just the right bun for a good burger. A heap of thin fries accompany them. The Balzac ($12), named for the sister establishment across the street, is especially tasty. Decidedly upscale, this burger is topped with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions.

Dressing in Armani would not be out of place at the Lounge; at the Garage you can get away with a tie-dyed shirt. The vitality and diversity of Brady Street are well represented at Hi Hat.

 

Hi Hat Lounge and Garage
1701 N. Arlington Place
414-220-8090
$$
Handicapped access: yes
hihatlounge.com