I love New Year’s Eve – hanging out with friends, Dick Clark’s admirable tenacity, the anticipation of the countdown. However, when it comes to partying on New Year’s Eve, I prefer a low-key gathering.
Last year, we had friends out from Philly and rang in 2011 with a dinner at home that featured some of our favorite things from West Side Market. For New Year’s Cleve 2012, we decided to venture out, but still wanted something that was not over-the-top.
Fat Head’s offered the perfect solution: dinner, dessert, two beers of your choosing, and a midnight toast for $30.
I love Fat Head’s. A short drive from Great Northern Mall, it’s Scott’s and my post-shopping escape. When the mall is crazy, a beer is a nice way to decompress and they have excellent beer.
Scott considers their Starlight Helles Lager his favorite beer. He’s a lager man so he sticks with that whenever we’re there. And he’s right — it is a very good, clean lager, but I like to experiment and Fat Head’s tends to not disappoint on that front either.
I also like their Sorcerer, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, and the Battle Axe Baltic Porter. For fans of IPAs, I recommend making a visit to Fat Head’s because their Head-Hunter IPA is a consistent award-winner.
Fat Head’s isn’t just for beer lovers, though, boasting a very robust menu – both in variety and serving size. I am a huge fan of their 4 Onion Honey and Ale Soup (especially during this time of year), smoked prime rib burrito and all of their pizzas.
However, in my opinion, their selection of Headwiches is really where they shine. The first time you order one, you realize they’re called headwiches thanks to their size. I can usually get 2-3 lunches out of them.
The Southside Slopes has been named one of the best sandwiches in the country with its kielbasa topped with fried pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions, and horseradish sauce.
If you like a lot of heat, I recommend the Bay of Pigs (pulled pork, ham, swiss cheese and pickles with their homemade Honey Mustard and spicy Killer sauce) or the Steak Out.
My favorite, though, is the Pot Head. Featuring beer braised pot roast with celery, carrots, potatoes, cheddar cheese, and horseradish sauce, it’s a hearty, warming sandwich – a delicious dinner with all the fixings, but in sandwich form.
Being the Fat Head’s fans that we are and in search of a well-priced, low-key New Year’s Cleve, we quickly made plans when we saw their New Year’s Eve special. And it was a great way to ring in the new year.
The dinner buffet featured pierogies, giant and rich wings, ribs, pulled pork, large soft pretzel sticks, lots of their awesome pizza and – Scott’s favorite – a bin of bacon. To drink, I celebrated 2012 with a Sorcerer, a Pimp My Sleigh and their midnight beer toast.
The food and drink were well-complemented with good company. In addition to hanging out with Kate, Brian, Dan and Sarah, the crowd that packed into Fat Head’s on Saturday night was jovial and not too crazy. I even randomly met someone who reads my blog – hi, Bridgid! (I may have geeked out when she told me that because it still takes me by surprise that someone besides Scott’s and my family reads this).
I know New Year’s Eve often gets blown out of proportion — it’s easy to go overboard and set really huge expectations for what – in reality – amounts to little more than counting down from 10 and changing the calendar from one day to another. I think that’s why I’ve always preferred parties at home or out at a pub for New Year’s Eve.
And I’m happy to say between the free-flowing food, some pretty fantastic beer, hanging out with new and old friends, and a little bit of Apples to Apples and UNO, New Year’s Eve at Fat Head’s was totally worth it.
And for the beginning of 2012? I don’t think you could start a year much better than with Happy Dog’s Gravy and Biscuits Brunch and a hot dog.
I hope the start of your new year was likewise filled with delicious food and good company. And if you’re looking for another great party this January: Greenhouse Tavern just announced their Iron Chef America Watch Party and #TeamSawyer Tweetup.
The January 22nd episode of Iron Chef America will feature Chef Sawyer’s first time as a challenger in Kitchen Stadium (he’s been there before as Symon’s sous chef). You can watch him take on Iron Chef Zakarian either from the comfort of your own home or at The Greenhouse Tavern Tweetup.
The episode starts at 10pm, but from 9-10pm #TeamSawyer is hosting a contest to guess the secret ingredient with a bottle of GHT pinot noir, house made beer vinegar, and an autographed GHT t-shirt going to the winner.
And if you’re not on Twitter, the mezzanine will be open to watch, relax, and order off the special Iron Chef Menu. Either way, register here.
2012’s already looking good!