The first impression you might get when you walk in the door is that Bearly’s is some kind of subterranean good ol’ boys’ bar. The kind of place where men in sleeveless denim jackets and high-crown cowboy hats drink beer and tap their stetsons to the tune of Hank Williams. Except that instead of Hank Williams, you hear Riley Jackson. Discerning taste makes a hasty retreat. But discerning ears will not. And the discerning stomach will thank them. This initial facade of country-western dystopia, combined with the gauche “… and Ribs” that suffixes the establishment’s name, are just a ploy to keep pretension at bay and given the crowd a Friday night draws, it appears to be working.
The dark,, somewhat cloistered atmosphere, half jukejoint, half Irish pub, is built on 3 open concept levels, the topmost being the pool table nook with large windows that open onto the band and the dance floor far below, allowing you an excellent, yet deliciously private vantage point to watch the action.
And there is action. Most nights showcase excellent live music, both local and visiting acts. (The exception is Wednesday night Karaoke which, one might argue, is about as live as it gets.) As the name suggests, in addition to ribs, there is no shortage of blues either but bluegrass, swing and jazz acts are not unusual phenomena. And of course, anywhere you find excellent live music, you’ll also find people willing to dance to it. And because Bearly’s lacks the pretension and social paranoia of most other eclectic nightclub venues, everybody dances. It is nothing unusual to see a 90 year old man jitterbug the daylights out of his dainty 86 year old wife with the rhythm and grace of a teenager. It is nothing to see a group of 50-something flower-childhood friends trying to revive the Freakout as they glide seamlessly to music reminiscent of incense and peppermints. The atmosphere infects all who enter with it’s glorious sense of honest funk.
And since all that dancing works up an appetite, the menu boasts an all-star cast of classic pub favourites of gargantuan proportions. (The potato skins, for example, can only be described as “extended-family size” and are covered with so many toppings, you have to have ordered them to identify them.) And true to it’s promise, Bearly’s House of Blues… has ribs. These are a succulent, fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth mastery of carnivorous delight and drunk with the house’s signature sauce. And while you have the option of ordering the half rack, the full rack is recommended since it’s an excuse to bring along friends, treat them to ribs and cement your popularity for weeks to come.
There are no leather couches. They don’t serve lattes, nor do they serve sushi (though you CAN get a mean fish and chips for $8.95) There are no bookshelves loaded with books everyone has claimed to have read but no one actually has. There are no obnoxious reprints of famous paintings hanging everywhere. They simply showcase music. They showcase the hell out of it.
Bearly’s House of Blues & Ribs
1269 Barrington St.