High Life Lounge and El Bait Shop revise beers, launch new menu

High Life Lounge and El Bait Shop revise beers, launch new menu

See 40 photos below from the 2013 Groundhog Day Party at High Life Lounge.

The High Life Lounge and El Bait Shop, two very different concept bars in one  building, merged a bit last week.

The establishments, both managed by the restaurateurs at Full Court Press, debuted a single, revamped menu aimed at simplifying kitchen operations and providing more options for diners.

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New food items debuted on the menu, too, Full Court co-founder Jeff Bruning said, to go along with recent shifts in both bars’ beer offerings.

“We’ve had them as two separate menus for a while, but we’ve been cooking out of the same kitchen,” Bruning said. “A year and a half ago we started offering both menus on both sides. We thought it was a bit confusing.”

The High Life Lounge finds inspiration for its simple American eats and cheap, domestic beer in the 1950s and ‘60s. El Bait feels like a Texas roadhouse overtaken by beer snobs — a dizzying array of craft brews paired with Mexican food.

Now El Bait’s fish tacos share menu space with High Life’s bacon-wrapped tater tots. New to the menu are seven items including the Big Maple Breakfast Sandwich (two maple-bacon sausages with eggs and American cheese on Texas toast, $6.99).

What’s more: Premium beers long held at El Bait are retiring over to High Life, a place that previously promised to serve beers your grandfather drinks. Now alongside Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz you can order Boulevard Wheat or Fat Tire, beers that Bruning said are pretty much classics by now — at least to beer aficionados.

Bruning said he hopes the singular menus will level out crowds between the High Life Lounge, which tends to get busier during the day, and El Bait, which gets busier at night.

So why doesn’t Full Court Press just knock down the walls between both bars, forming one giant shrine to American beer in downtown?

“Physically we can’t do that,” Bruning said. “But I don’t think there’s any real (confusion) — the beer is what separates them.”

 East village shop Domestica snapped a shot of the new menu.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at jhafner@registermedia.com or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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