There is no “I” in Mad Sons (1109 SE Madison St., 265-8531, madsonspub.com).
The new Revolutionary War-themed bar is a beautiful hardwood affair
complete with 13-star flags, a hearth, a giant blue-felt billiards table
and a picture of the signing of the Declaration of Independence burned
into the wood of the bar’s service gate. But this time last year it was
Madison’s Bar and Grill, an 18-year survivor of a bar that looked like a
Denny’s in West Virginia and attracted the same clientele. And while
the new owners have spared no sweat equity prettying up the inside, the
classic, two-story neon sign out front has merely had its “I” taped over
so it won’t shine at night (they plan to eventually remove the letter).
The interior makeover is more than cosmetic, however. The bar—owned by a
seven-strong consortium of bar and service vets, including a pair from
East Side Deli—now offers a fine selection of tapped local beers and
ciders, plus house drinks with black tea or root beer. The classic Old
Pal ($10, with Old Overholt rye, bitters and Dolin vermouth) has an
agreeably firm handshake, and the food menu rolls between beef slab
sandwich and root beer-flavored chicken nuggets (a treat at $5 during
early and late happy hours). But so far, it’s been a very quiet
revolution at the young pub, with few patrons on multiple visits, and a
varied cast of founding fathers: I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered both
an affably erudite Thomas Jefferson and a deeply surly John Adams. All
they need now is Thomas Paine.