While people over 21 enjoy going there for the wide selection of beers, others enjoy going for the hopping atmosphere, especially on nights when a big NFL game is taking place. While choosing this restaurant might seem strange considering how popular it may seem on campus, you’d be surprised at how many people have never been there, including a couple of my friends and at least one junior and one sophomore whom I just happened to mention the topic of my article to. If anything, this is to convert them and others into Distillery patrons as best as I know how.

Walking into the front door, there is an overall feeling of energy and excitement, regardless of how many people are nearby the decoration and organization is really welcoming. Wood paneling covers many of the walls and ceilings, which creates a homey feeling in tandem with the craziness that may ensues when sports fans watch their team lose a game in the last minute of play. With more than 30 televisions and projectors throughout the restaurant, it’s difficult not to look in one direction and see at least six of them within your visual scope at any given moment, which surprisingly isn’t all that distracting with respect to the dining experience as a whole.

When the weather is warmer, there are also multiple balconies where guests can be served. Food-wise, The Distillery has a pretty extensive menu with a number of finger-food appetizers such as quesadillas or boneless Buffalo wings, and main courses include anything from salads, sandwiches and burgers to steaks, pizzas, pastas, flatbreads and wraps. Truth be told, I’d say there’s really something for nearly everyone, regardless of their dietary preferences.

My friend and I split an appetizer of medium Boneless Buffalo Wings, which came out within 15 minutes, hot, juicy and ready and eat. The restaurant offers sauces from medium and spicy to sesame ginger and something called ‘Ghost,” which is definitely not for the faint of heart. According to the menu, ‘Ghost” is ‘extremely hot, made from the hottest pepper in the world.” You can probably imagine why I went with the medium sauce, though I could see the ‘Ghost” sauce being useful in a bet between some college kids (not that I’m condoning such a bet, although I’d imagine it could end in hilarity).
What I really like about The Distillery is that it continually reinvents its menu while still keeping the staples that people love coming back for.

As an entre, I had a Guacamole Bacon Cheeseburger, which was recently added to the menu. It was certainly one of the most unique combinations on a burger I have ever had, served with a side of sweet potato fries, which was perfectly filling. I think this was a prime example of the chef’s creativity of taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary, as corny as that might sound. After all, this business is really about setting yourself apart from the competition and I think The Distillery does that well.

Another notable observation is that The Distillery attracts all different types of people. Sitting at my booth this past weekend, I saw a family with a little baby in one booth, a couple probably in their 70s (sharing a whole pitcher of beer, oddly enough) and some other UR students, amongst the diners.

With its close proximity to our campus, The Distillery has made some recent changes to make it even more attractive to college students, including adding free wireless Internet access throughout the restaurant, as well as making URos (Flex to us old-school folk) an acceptable form of payment.

Overall, The Distillery provides a great time, and its motto, ‘Food. Drink. Sports. Fun!” couldn’t be truer. With a wide selection of foods at good prices, plus an exciting and active atmosphere, it’s quite a combination.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to visit http://www.thedistillery.com for information including hours of operation, locations and a downloadable PDF of the menu.

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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