Thursday, April 28, 2011

The New Cat's Cradle

Late in the summer of 1998 I traveled to Melbourne, Florida to go to a friend's wedding. This was in the days before everyone had a cell phone and I somehow missed my friend at his apartment, where I was going to be staying. After going a couple of places to find out where in town someone might have a rehearsal dinner, I determined I was not going to find him until he came home. So I went to a bar I had driven past that looked like I might be able to get a bite to eat and a beer or two and maybe meet Cecil Fielder (he lived in Melbourne, I was convinced I would meet him while I was there, I didn't but we did see his house).

The bar I chose apparently spent all the money they had to spend for ambience was spent on the sign out front. It was in a nondescript strip mall (like everything else in Florida) in a nondescript town and was overwhelmingly beige inside. The clientele seemed to be well heeled Floridians just living out their bleak days in beige and macro lagers. The menu appeared to be a ripoff of a Village Inn menu with cutesy names having to do with whatever the name of the bar was. I spent a couple of hours there swilling Heineken and looking for Cecil, pretty much just wasting a couple of hours of my life.

I never again thought of that place until a couple of years later when I went with some new friends from my new work in my new city of Kansas City. I thought of it when I walked in the Granfalloon on the Plaza because it appeared they had airlifted the place from Melbourne right onto the Plaza. A look at the menu revealed the same kitschy names for fried bar food that was innovative in 1953. The beer list looked like a beer list from before Fritz Maytag saved Anchor. Granfalloon was boring and forgettable.

Maybe Granfalloon is still boring and forgettable but they've undergone a little renovation including a patio where that little parking lot right next to it used to be. I've been told the menu has been reworked. But, the biggest change of all is the addition of numerous taps that pour all manner of fine brews. Granfalloon now has Stone Arrogant Bastard, IPA and Sublimely Self Righteous, Avery Hog Heaven, a couple Schlaflys, Great Divide Colette and Chocolate Yeti, some New Belgiums including Somersault and Le Terroir (which I had at The Riot Room and really liked a lot) and Boulevard Pale Ale. While I might quibble with some of the choices (lose a couple New Belgiums, add Tank 7 and Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'), I admire the effort. Colette on tap seems truly inspired. Granfalloon seems a little less bleak and beige now. Maybe Granfalloon might be worth a drop in, at least they've joined the 21st century beer wise. Welcome to the future Jonah.

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