Brothers Bar and Grill in South Bend is located on the Notre Dame campus in the relatively new Eddy Street Commons.
Brothers can be found on many college campuses but while I was at Purdue, Brothers was not there yet. The building that houses it now in West Lafayette was a bar called the Boiler Room.
Back in the late ’90s, the microbrew revolution had not taken over college campuses yet. The three major-brand light beers were consumed most frequently, even by the richer students.
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The really cheap beer was reserved for weekday specials. Penny Beer nights at T.A. Toms, Mug Night at The Neon Cactus, and especially Schooner Night at The Boiler Room were popular hangouts for students blowing off a little steam. The Boiler Room schooner was a giant glass chalice that cost about $6 to buy and only a buck to refill. You could even bring it back on other schooner nights for dollar refills if you managed not to break it.
The chain places, like Brothers, have been taking over the bars lately on the campuses. Gone may be the “schooner nights,” but the quality of both food and drink have increased substantially from those days. The Boiler Room was also a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, so these chain places do make the campus bar a nicer and cleaner place to hang out.
I made my way out to the Eddy Street Commons recently to check out the wings at the Fighting Irish version of Brothers.
The place is a typical sports bar-like atmosphere. It has TVs plastered across the bar, and the light-toned wood heavily featured throughout the restaurant is reminiscent of a Hooters.
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I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and some buffalo wings, but not before being asked for a form of ID. Don’t leave it in your car around these places. College town bars are more strict about that than your neighborhood one.
When the wings arrived, the sauce looked off-color. It was orange, but a lot lighter than most other buffalo sauces. I asked the bartender and he said they had just switched their sauces and this one was a more true buffalo.
I got about three wings in and knew something was off. I couldn’t stomach eating another one, so I finished my beer and was ready to head off to a B-dubs or something.
The other bartender saw that I had so many wings left on my plate and asked me about them. After telling them the taste was really different and that I couldn’t take down anymore, he informed me their new buffalo sauce has ranch in it.
My opinion on buffalo wings is they should be eaten with the sauce only. I never dip them in something like blue cheese or ranch. To me it’s like putting ketchup on a steak. No, ketchup tastes too good for that comparison. It would be like putting ranch on a steak.
But, the bartender graciously offered to exchange my wings for 10 different wings with a different sauce. That was really cool and I was very grateful for him offering that to me.
He first suggested the garlic wings, but then said that the garlic sauce was mixed with mayonnaise. If there is one flavor I despise more than ranch, it is mayonnaise, so I quickly shook my head and he suggested the honey Sriracha sauce. I like spice, and they had the sweetness of the honey, so I was able to actually finish my meal.
I do like the Brothers Bar and Grill. The atmosphere is great, and the food selections are right up my alley. I really like the way the bartenders treated me. It was clear they want to take care of their customers. I just can’t believe they put ranch in the buffalo sauce.
I understand that some (OK, most) people like ranch. My kids gross me out all the time by dipping their fries in that stuff. Ranch is a popular “concoction” to dip wings in, but this isn’t Communist Russia here. As Americans, we should have the right to choose whether we want to have ranch on our buffalo wings, or at least be warned about it.