by Mike Sula
Have you seen the Spike TV reality show Bar Rescue? I'm not surprised if you haven't, so here's the pitch: a bloviating Gordon Ramsey-esque bar consultant sweeps into a struggling waterhole and, in the name of maximizing profits, scrubs and genericizes whatever makes the place quirky or unique, while humiliating owners and staff for dramatic effect. That's what happened to the venerable Abbey Pub last year when the show's producers transformed it into a dime-store Hard Rock Cafe, hanging incongruous gimcracks on the walls (Van Halen-autographed Stratocaster?), and shit-canning a server for eating a potato chip.
The Looney family's ignominy streams in perpetuity, but I warn you, you will cringe.* I sincerely hope it was worth it.
I haven't seen a show on the other side of the Abbey since the makeover so I can't tell you how that went. But I can tell you that the pub itself—now called the Green Room—is serving a bunch of gimmicky nonsense that the kitchen and bar don't seem to have the heart to execute: a soggy hot-pretzel jenga tower, potato chip nachos, cold reuben egg rolls, and no less than three Red Bull cocktails.
But I'm glad the Looneys had the stones to keep their trashy-good ground-meat shepherd's pie, even after the bozo consulting chef responsible for the aforementioned garbage declared it shite.
There's also a respectable whiskey list, and the curry fries and greasy Irish breakfast remain.
The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408