It was only a short drive from Captain Jack’s to our next stop Karmali’s at 1903 Harrison St. You may not have heard of this tavern by this name, but if I wrote George’s Gaslight, you would recognize it. One sign for George’s Gaslight still sits on the roof top of the building.
Karmali’s is owned by two couples who bought it last winter from the former George’s Gaslight owners, Jake and Jamie Perry last winter, I think. An Oshkosh assistant city clerk who knows about our beer blog, told me about the change in ownership. She’s the one who collects the fees for liquor licenses, so she knows her bars! She and her husband had stopped at Karmali’s for supper a few weeks previous to our City Hall conversation last spring. “They’re remodeling the place,” she told me and said the dining room was still closed, but that they served “pub food” in the barroom. She assured me that the food was tasty.
That was why I suggested this place for supper. The off-and-on rain had stopped so I took some outside photos. We wondered where the name Karmali came from. Perhaps a name of some exotic place in Asia? Or maybe some place in a science fiction or fantasy novel? No. We learned that the name is a combination of the names of the three children of the two couples. Now, I suppose we could spend hours trying to figure out those names: hmmmm, Karen, Matt and Lily? No, I’m not going there.
There were five people seated at the bar and I knew two of them, Jay and Nancy, who own Camera Casino in downtown Oshkosh. Their kids were students of mine “back in the day.” Their son, who looks like Aaron Rogers and has the same initials, works at the shop also. He’s printed many of our son Tom’s photos for the shows Tom enters.
The signs of remodeling were evident. The walls opposite the bar are paneled with recycled raw blonde wood. The six tables along that wall are also made from this wood, but they are highly polished. After chatting with Jay and Nancy we chose a table. Marvin, Elaine and I ordered Karmali Ale. Judy chose a Stella Artois and Don Wisconsin Amber. There were six taps altogether. Gary, our designated driver drank only water.
Our waitress Ann Marie was a native of Los Angeles. Not sure why she settled here, but she did. She talked about the importance of having her kids “see the world.” So, she ended up here after touring the States. Gary and Elaine travel more than the rest of us in the USA. So we listened as they dropped of “must visit” places in the US while Ann Marie nodded her head yes, meaning she and her kids had been there.
My parents took my sister and me and our maternal grandmother Lala on long trips when we were grade schoolers. We drove to the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Pikes Peak, east to Quebec City, Montreal and Niagara Falls and south to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. My mom made sure we visited every state capitol building. So I’ve seen the bullet holes on the wall of the Louisiana state capitol building in Baton Rouge where Huey Long was shot and the oil wells on the state capitol grounds in Oklahoma City. Best looking capitol building? The kiva shaped one in Santa Fe. For me all these travels sure beat going to Disney World year after year.
But time to order some supper: Judy had a Rueben; Don a cheeseburger with onion rings. Gary and I ordered California burgers. I also had deep fried cheese curds. Marvin had the “heart attack special”-a burger with cheese and a fried egg. Elaine had a Buffalo Chicken Panini with spinach and blue cheese. We all enjoyed our sandwiches. Judy declared, “OMG this is sooo good.”
Out of the blue Don asked, “Why do we romanticize the South?” We decided Florida didn’t count even though it’s in the south. I let the others talk, as I’m not very familiar with the South. A few business trips to Atlanta hardly makes me a specialist on the South. Somebody thought it might have something to do with Gone With the Wind. Also the popularity of English novelist Sir Walter Scott with all that chivalry stuff was raised as a cause? Then the conversation switched to fishing and Marvin delighted us with stories of fishing in the Boundary Waters with our son Tom and Marv’s colleague Hugo. Hugo wasn’t an easy person to travel or fish with. After criticizing Marvin’s fish filleting technique, Marvin said, “I guess there’s more than one way to fillet a fish.” Marvin had learned from his grandfather, a lifelong fisherman. Hugo agreed: “Yes, there’s my way and the wrong way.”
All this talk about the 50 states led me to ask where would you live if you couldn’t live in Wisconsin. I expected answers like Florida or Hawaii, but no. The answers were Ohio, Minnesota, New York and California (the Sacramento and San Francisco areas).
I thought we were going to a third tavern, but it was raining again. Not that we minded, but Gary and Elaine were in the midst of a major landscaping project at their home. They were concerned over the havoc more rain would cause in their basement. Therefore a third stop was eliminated. So we paid our bill, thanked our waitress and prepared to leave. Judy had one final question: “Do you have a quarter machine?” No, Karmali’s doesn’t.
P.S. About a month after this beer trail ride, Marv and I ate supper at Players. It was heavily decorated for Halloween. As we left walking slowly to look at the goblins, skeletons, witches and pumpkins, we saw a quarter machine. Wow! Oops! Lost every quarter I slipped through the slot.