Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Rail, Revisited

I love The Rail.  I end up there pretty much whenever I'm in Bloomington.  It has a great upscale and intimate feel, yet it's also the perfect place to unwind in jeans with the best cocktail in town.  I'd recommend it to my parents and my friends, a wide demographic that's hard to please.

This round, I went back two nights in a row: once with a couple of new-to-town folks from my MBA program, the second with my old high school friend RM.  I was excited to try their early summer menu (they change seasonally, as a good locavore joint should) and I was not disappointed.  (Note: They may have changed over to Late Summer Menu by now!)

Please excuse the terrible iPhone photos.  They don't do it justice, but I was trying to be sneaky snapping pics before my friends noticed and called me out for being a silly blogger.



The food I sampled both nights was delicious.  It is a small plates menu, so you can share or keep a plate to yourself as a meal.  I really love their $3 Bites menu, where you can get some bar munchies that aren't from-frozen gut bombs.  I loved the hot bread with house-made compound butter, as well as the house chips with house aioli.  The plates were generous enough for an entire party.

I also stole bites from my friends' plates: Pasta (Semolina fettuccine, herb pesto, hydroponic tomatoes, white wine, aged Asiago), Wrap (Chilled sesame pork butt, fresh chard, quick pickles, cilantro, Shitake aioli), and Soul.  SOUL WAS MY JAM.  Buttermilk fried chicken, spent grain waffle, bourbon butter, maple.  I love chicken & waffles, but this was decadent.

For drinks, I tried both the So Fresh, So Clean (Fernet Branca, strawberry infused Cocchi Americano, Domaine de Canton, lemon, mint, Barritt's) and the Papa Doble (El Dorado 3yr white rum, fresh lime & grapefruit, maraschino liqueur).  YUM.  The cocktails at The Rail are not for those seeking a fruity bowl drink.  These are strong and serious, unlike what you can find anywhere else in town.  The mint in So Fresh, So Clean made me perk up; it was just so... FRESH!

So Fresh, So Clean

Colin Boilini is a magician behind the bar.  No wonder he's winning awards.  After sampling the seasonal cocktail menu, my friend RM was indecisive about what to have next.  Colin asked her flavor and spirit preferences, then whipped up an original, magical drink that was perfect for her.  He stirs, shakes, strains, and mixes, truly taking to heart the craft of creating a perfect cocktail.

The Rail also has a great patio for warmer weather, a feature I love down at its cash-only, casual sister Housebar down the hill.  And while I have seen reviewers knock the price (it's a college town), coming from Nashville I think it's spot-on.  This is a classy place for those seeking something special and different from the Bloomington college bar scene.  I've never been disappointed.

Don't believe me?  Check out this awesome article from last year about this Btown gem.

 The Rail on Urbanspoon


  1. Too bad I'm no where near Bloomington. It looks quite tasty!

  2. Love The Rail! It's so funny that one of the cocktails you tried had Fernet in it, it's apparently THE San Francisco liqueur, but it's also apparently disgusting on its own, so I've been to scared to try it yet ;)

    1. I don't like melon or licorice liquors/liqueurs, and I have no idea what Fernet is like except it was in these delicious drinks! Maybe ask Colin Boilini for a reco on how to get a great Fernet cocktail? :)


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