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Belly Up

Any fellow can enjoy Oddfellows

4/9/2014

Everything is odd at Oddfellows… except the grilled cheeseburger. That just makes sense.

Everything is odd at Oddfellows… except the grilled cheeseburger. That just makes sense.

“Odd.” The word carries a three-part meaning: strange or unusual, an unplanned occurrence, or made of different types. All are true when it comes to encapsulating the feel of this unique stop nestled in Ames’ north end.

Oddity No. 1: Oddfellows was born on eBay.

“I was actually searching the word ‘odd’ and came across a robe,” said owner Chris Patterson. (Oddity No. 2: Chris Patterson.)

The robe, he said, originated in the United Kingdom from a fraternal organization known as the Odd Fellows. It now sits in the entrance, draped over a knight statue — and so the place was named — which brings patrons to the third and most obvious oddity, the décor.

From parking meters to crossing signs, Oddfellows packs an unforgettable look that Patterson credits to Texas — inspired by the vibe of the Austin music scene. But it’s hard to listen to even a story as odd as this one when a creepy doll is eyeballing you from its propped-up position on a high chair at the entrance.

“Gives me the heebie-geebies,” I admitted.

“Yeah, we like to hide it around the restaurant to scare the co-workers,” Patterson laughed.

The unusual does not stop at the door.

While delivering my food order — bacon and burger patty smashed between two grilled cheese sandwiches, aptly called the “grilled cheese burger” — bartender Erin McMahon said the classical guitar hanging overhead is a customer favorite among the many random objects and props that mishmash the ceiling and walls.

“I had a guy serenade me for hours one day when the bar was empty,” said the bartender sporting a staff shirt that said, “BACON! It’s meat candy.”

It’s also a nice segue into yet another oddity: the menu. Customers can enjoy the made-from-scratch dinner of their dreams and a liquor-loaded Mason jar all in one sitting at Oddfellows — both carry the bar’s namesake. A burger patty smothered in Jack cheese with bacon squeezed between homemade glazed donut buns can be washed down with signature cocktail, The Oddfellow, served in a jar. The drink is so loaded with different types of alcohol that it comes with a disclaimer: “Limit two per person.”

“How are you enjoying that drink?” Erin asked a patron with enough courage to order one of the potent yet surprisingly tasty concoctions. “Need a ride home?” she laughed.

From its staff to its patrons to its collection of idiosyncratic oddities, Oddfellows is a lively circus of different characters enjoying one common, yet uncommon, space over drinks and dinner.

The only thing stranger than the peanut butter pasta, donut buns, bacon- and macaroni-loaded menu and a drink strong enough to knock you off the bar is driving through Ames without making Oddfellows a necessary stop. CV          

Chris Kelley is a graduate of Greenlee School of Journalism at Iowa State University and offers occasional articles for Cityview.

ODDFELLOWS COCKTAIL LOUNGE & BURGER KITCHEN
823 Wheeler St., Ames
HOURS/KITCHEN: Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 4-11 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
HAPPY HOUR: Sunday-Thursday 4-6:30 p.m.
ENTERTAINMENT: Occasional live musicians perform during summer, although any customer is allowed to play the in-house guitar.
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