BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Generally speaking, members of the Institute of Drinking Studies do not espouse shallow thinking and judgment based on superficial qualities. But like all guys, we give the benefit of the doubt to women with large bosoms and/or risqué wardrobes. We also will side with our home team no matter who they're playing. We know that if you drive like a moron in the snow (e.g., when your tires start spinning on the ice, you gun the gas even more), then you are a bad person who is most likely going to hell. And when we see a large building with no prominent markings other than a sign that states "Brewhouse" in big red letters, we understand that great things are inside.

My wife and I recently noticed a large building in Aurora with just such a sign, and when her father rolled into town, we decided to take him there. Since he's a good man, we knew that he would be pleased with any sort of brewhouse. Still, I became increasingly nervous as we pulled into the parking lot. Up close, the place reminded me of a skin club: large, square and nondescript, with heavily mirrored windows and no obvious entrance. And when I caught a glimpse of the joint's full name, I just about aborted our family night out. BJ's?

Nonetheless, we ventured inside BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse (14442 East Cedar Avenue, Aurora) and had a very satisfying, wholesome night. The great service started the moment we walked in, and our stay went as smoothly as a flawless pit stop at Indy. Families were all over the place, with kids enjoying a good children's menu and catching major sugar buzzes from the homemade root beer. My wife liked the fact that BJ's isn't claustrophobic, when so many other bars pack as many drunks as possible into a small space; I think the lofty ceilings and fun decor also allowed her to pretend that she was in a much fancier restaurant and not out watching her dad and husband get a little sloshed. My father-in-law and I needed little more than our nice corner table with a panoramic view of at least ten TVs and the bar's comprehensive offerings, including brews made on site. I'm now a huge fan of the Piranha Ale.

Although the menu is nothing fancy, everything we tried was great. The appetizers -- especially the tater skins -- were so filling that we wondered why the hell we'd ordered entrees. But when the Chicago-style pizza showed up, we realized that yes, we'd inhaled our appetizers, but we could still handle a two-inch-thick pizza. We'd opted for the Great White version, which was basically fettuccine Alfredo on bread. I get short of breath just thinking about it; an order should come with an advert for a nearby cardiologist.

But then, modern medicine's greatest breakthrough was the recent revelation that alcohol intake can protect your heart -- and my beer consumption this night no doubt prevented a major cardiac event. I know that some misguided souls believe alcohol is only good for you in moderation, but when you overindulge at a place like BJ's, I prescribe a higher dose of beer to keep those arteries open.


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