Where’s the beef?

You don’t care about my life. I know this. If I were any sort of man, I’d just go and drown my sorrows in a long bout with my favorite pint glass.

Instead, I called my parents and asked them to dinner. They seemed hesitant—mom was busy planting flowers, and dad had some woodwork to do. Then I offered to buy. They said they’d meet me, and the phone went dead.

A friend once told me if you’re feeling down, look for a place with an Irish name. I don’t know how this applies to Lucky’s—a grocery store can only make you feel impotent against the world—but the advice won’t leave me, so I picked a place I hadn’t been to before.

Sullivan’s, like so many of the bars in Reno, is backed into a strip mall. In this case, it’s Airport Square. Oh, you don’t know Airport Square? Turn your back to Costco, and you’ll see the rest of it.

How does Sullivan’s differentiate itself? First and foremost, it is a sports bar, and a nice one at that. Comfortable booths line the wall of windows; a nice, large bar dominates one side of the room, and the other is taken up with tall bar tables. The place is festooned with jerseys of diverse sporting lineage (soccer, rugby and baseball) that hang from the ceiling. And there are even added amenities: Our table had a volume knob, which I understand would control the volume of one of the many TVs around the bar. It wasn’t working when I was there, but I’m sure it is a nice feature when it does. Though I haven’t met Phil Sullivan, I picture him as the great Irish uncle my Italian family could never provide me with. He has certainly gone out of his way to make his establishment a comfortable one.

My parents, gluttons for free meals, arrived before me and were both sipping on cocktails when I arrived. I ordered a beer and took a look at the menu.

The menu is filled with typical bar fare, which is a good thing. I did notice that the corned beef was made in-house, which led me to select the Reuben ($6.50). My mom went with the straight corned beef sandwich ($6.25) and dad ordered the steak sandwich ($8.75).

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when the food arrived. Not that it wasn’t good; the corned beef in my Reuben was spectacular, some of the best I’ve had. But there wasn’t nearly enough of it. Two slices, maybe three. My mom’s sandwich looked the same. But since she can’t eat without talking, the size of her sandwich was just right; she finished a lot sooner than she would have if the meat had been loaded on. The fries, so important in a sports bar, were ideal. They were fresh cut with the skin on and perfectly greasy. They kept me satisfied as I mowed through my anemic Reuben. Dad didn’t talk much, which is normal, and finished his meal, which is also normal. His sandwich was plenty big, and I had a pang of jealousy upon seeing his satisfied demeanor. I was still hungry.

But I was feeling better than when I went in, and that’s after an hour with the parents. The bartender gave a friendly wave as we left; the bill was reasonable and the corned beef was damned good. Stack it a little thicker next time, Phil, and your long-lost nephew will be back for more.