Spirit of creativity

The Banshee whips up some fun grub in a cool environment

HUNGRY LIKE THE BANSHEE<br>Patrons line the bar at downtown’s newest drinking hole.

Patrons line the bar at downtown’s newest drinking hole.

Photo By Andrew Boost

132 W. Second St.
Phone: 895-9670
Hours: Food served Weds.-Sun. noon-10 p.m. Call for bar times.

The Banshee

132 W. Second St.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 895-9670

My first visit to the Banshee left me charmed, I’m sure. With no expectations, I prepared myself to review yet another drinking establishment, and said a brief prayer that this foray into the journalistic field doesn’t leave me a lush. My companion and I walked in and I promptly fell in love.

The bar takes up half of the long rectangular room and a few tables take up the other half. We sat ourselves down and looked around. Simple, sparse lighting, a rough brick wall behind three huge bar-to-ceiling mirrors and flickering candlelight make the Banshee less Irish pub and more eclectic, comfortable hangout. I checked out the beers on tap and wondered if the universe intended to give me an early birthday present. Stella on tap! Along with Wyder’s Pear Cider, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Blue Moon and a few other winners, their beer selection made me ecstatic.

We were greeted by our waiter/bartender, a cheery fellow with dimples. As I’m partial to dimples, owning a pair myself, I took this as a good omen. It was a slow Tuesday night, we were handed menus that had six items crossed off. I felt like that didn’t leave us a whole lot of options and I looked up quizzically. Our waiter informed us that they’re reworking the menu, and adding the burger selection up on the chalkboard as well as a few others.

We ordered the roasted vegetables and goat cheese quesadilla ($8) to start and decided to sample some burgers off the board, because we couldn’t resist. I ordered the Kiev ($9), a half-pound burger rubbed with garlic butter. My friend ordered the Popper ($10), a quarter-pound burger topped with jalapeño cream cheese. When the quesadilla arrived, we were promptly impressed. Sautéed onions, green peppers and mushrooms were nestled amongst goat cheese and Colby jack. Served attractively with a chile-lime sour cream, garnished with sliced limes and jalapeños, the quesadilla was hot and delicious. Our burgers arrived and we were, again, pretty impressed. I chose potato salad as a side, which was disappointingly served in a tiny plastic cup. For the price of the burgers, the lack of fries was strange but even a wee bit more potato salad or cole slaw would make up for it.

My second visit to the Banshee, I ordered a Skippy burger ($9). The menu items are imaginative for sure, and include a chorizo, spicy slaw and horseradish aioli quesadilla ($7) and homemade mac ‘n’ cheese with ham ($7.50), but this burger takes the cake. On my first visit, I had inquired about the Skippy burger, and jokingly asked if it had peanut butter on it. The waiter said, yup, without a doubt. Intrigued, I thought, yeah, maybe next time. So I went for it.

And what was probably the dream child of a very hungry, very drunk, protein-craving creator chef (who no doubt prefers Skippy over Jiffy) has become my new favorite thing. Next time, I’m trying the Black & Blue ($10), a half-pound burger with blue cheese and Cajun seasoning.

Despite the brevity of the menu, I was taken aback by the creativity of the choices: this is an imaginative menu, and I look forward to the new additions. Make sure you take a look at the wall of pictures and read the captions made by someone with an irreverent sense of humor and a label maker. The music’s loud, but good, and I sure don’t mind listening to the Pixies and the Pharcyde turned up a little.

If you want to enjoy a quieter dinner, get there before 9 p.m. During the day, it’s a nice, quiet place to have a burger and a beer. Candlelight flickers, the dark, cozy space is cool and pleasant and Buddha statues stare down at you from the bar. The service is friendly, the patrons are relaxed and the beers are good and cold. It’s summer; what more could you ask for?