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Random bites: Billy's Place, The Distillery
Billy's Place

Billy's Place

This cozy, intimate dining room above bustling McDonough's is the perfect destination for date night. I, on the other hand, was alone on this visit, and chose to sit at a high-top table near the bar. Crooner Lafayette Chester belted out mellow pop standards and an occasional verse of "Happy Birthday," to nearby revelers. I REALLY wanted a steak, but wanted to push back at the kitchen, so I chose grilled salmon instead. The filet was nicely flavored and the right-sized portion, along with a baked potato and steamed veggies of squash, broccoli and cauliflower, was a delicious supper. I started the meal with a pair of hot, yeasty rolls and a half dozen Oysters Rockefeller -- piping hot half shells topped with melted cheese, tender spinach and plump, beautifully briny oysters. There's a small and carefully chosen wine list, comfy full-service bar and a dessert menu that I couldn't muster myself to sample -- but I'll be back again soon. Billy's Place is the kind of place where everybody knows your name -- and you're proud they do.

20 E. Perry St./231-9049

The Distillery

Pioneering craft beer bar The Distillery celebrated its first birthday a few weeks ago -- and shows no signs of slowing down. With nearly two dozen beers on tap and probably a hundred more, it's the city's go-to destination for innovative craft beers. Add to this a solid menu of bar food and snacks, classic silent movies or sought-after sporting events on big screens -- and you've got the makings of a great weekend or week-night outing. I like the grilled Little Mike burger (1/4 lb.), a bowl of nicely-spiced chili with savory Stout-marinaded beef and a chilly pint of beer. Apps like pretzel bites, deep-fried pickle spears and calamari make starting the party easy. It's fun, it's casual and it's a year old!

416 W. Liberty St./236-1772