"Deli, liquor store and bar? This place is gonna be little," I thought while walking toward Miska's in Roscoe Village. I also couldn't push out of my mind the image of a laundromat. Upon arrival, my first marvel was the wholesome aesthetic; second was the vastness of the 3-in-1 neighborhood corner store. And there were no washing machines in sight.
The deli: Deli food with a Polish flair. The melange is classic meat-and-cheese sandwiches and varied soups, and under the glass that day they offered mostaccoli, meatballs, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, blintzes (cheese-filled pastries), coleslaw and chicken salad. In the market section of the deli there are four crispers of fresh produce and dairy products, including seven varieties of cheese along with eight shelves with packaged foods and basic household supplies.
The liquor store: "We even have the stuff Van Gogh drank before he cut off his ear. And Elvis wine!" was the clerk, Steve's, reply to my stated approval of Miska's copious supply. There are nearly 30 shelves of booze and 26 refrigerators of beer, some of which even I had never seen. The store offers three beers in mini-kegs and regular kegs. Under lock-n-key in a cherry-wood chest, Miska's carries top-shelf brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label ($200/1 liter), and Herradura Tequila Seleccion Suprema ($300/750ml).
The bar: A circular bar with lots of old timers from the neighborhood, and not a lot of "yahoos" (yuppies), according to regular Jim Hampton. When I asked Sean, the bartender, why there's a sign that says "Sorry" on the cash register, he said, "Whatever your problems, we're terribly sorry." The staff and regulars seem eager for progress and fresh faces at the bar, but there are limits to who they'll welcome. Definitely no "yahoos," everyone agreed. Every night there's a drink special and "multi-libations of the indiscreet taste" said John Washington, regular and spokesman of Miska's. My favorite was the barber's chair in the corner for time-outs, or pass outs.
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Anderson