Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
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United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oh, it's an after midnight club...my bad

Before we had dinner at Buona Terra the other night, we popped into a place called Misala for a drink. Misala is just a few blocks away from Buona Terra and we thought it would be a fun place to check out before settling in to our dinner locale. Misala, which is Spanish for living room ("mi sala"), is a Caribbean-inspired bar and lounge with hip decor and an interesting menu.

Everything about the place aims to be stylish and trendy. The menu of island fare such as fried plantains, jerk chicken, and pollo en fricassee looked great. But check out the photo above. It was 8:00pm and there wasn't a soul in the place. Even the waitress had called in and said she was still blowdrying her hair and was going to be late. (This is a true story, as told by the bartender.)

Clearly Misala was expecting a crowd. Check out the velvet ropes all stacked up and waiting to be used on the left side of my photo. And oddly enough many of the dishes on the menu were followed by an asterisk that meant they were available only after 10pm. After 10pm? I'm quite familiar with dishes not being available after certain times in the evening, but found it very unique that they didn't even start serving some of their best ones until after 10pm.

The mystery deepened as we talked more to the "bartender." He was a friendly and down-to-Earth guy, and he freely shared his disgust that the waitress was late. We ordered drinks off their special cocktail list (a California Margarita for me and a Misala Signature for Win) and he was off to make them. The drinks took a while to make and when he returned with them, he wanted us to taste them to make sure they were good. The "bartender" said he was "a Hennessey man" and that "when he drinks he drinks to get drunk." He's not really one for mixed drinks, preferring his liquor straight up and potent. We took a sip and actually both drinks were excellent. So he got them right and was pleased with that. But let's take a step back here and review what just happened: The "bartender" told us he wasn't really sure how to make these kinds of mixed drinks. Is this nice man even the real bartender? Or was he just some guy holding down the fort until the waitress (whose hair is apparently terribly long and wet because she still hasn't shown up 30 minutes later) and the real bartender came for the evening?

And I repeat...where are all the customers? I feel like the guy in those old British Airways ads who finds himself in the middle of a deserted city and yells "Where is everybody?" at the top of his lungs.

We knew we were going to Buona Terra for dinner, so we didn't want to eat too much at Misala but we did want to try something with a Caribbean flavor from their menu. Everything I really wanted wasn't available until 10pm, so I held back and just savored my drink. Win got the Caribbean Jerk Chicken Skewers, served with Yellow Rice and Pigeon Peas. The chicken was excellent and better than what's served at one of Win's other favorite Caribbean restaurants in Atlanta. The bowl of rice and pigeon peas was huge and I ate a healthy amount of it too; it was really delicious.

After we finished our drinks, we said goodbye to the kind "bartender" and went on our way, still wondering where the real staff was and where the customers were. It was only after we got home and did some research on the place that we found out it was known as an "after-midnight spot" with various DJs at the ready. Since we have the Lima Bean, I doubt we'll be hitting the after midnight scene at Misala anytime soon. But if any of you Chicagoans do, let me know what you think. What we could gather from our brief, and apparently ill-timed, exposure to the place was that it would probably be fun.

Misala's decor is trendy, the lounge atmosphere comfortable, and their Caribbean menu is unique. The two things we tried off their menu were delicious, but we can't really say we experienced what Misala is really like. Clearly this place doesn't get going until really late in the evening but if you are up for that, check it out.

2556 W. Fullerton
Chicago, IL
Telephone: 773-276-5843