Park Ridge Insider Matt Coyne on dining at Mel’s Craft BBQ, Harp & Fiddle and Daniel’s Charcuterie, the selection at Around the World Cigars, and the seclusion of the Wildwood Nature Center
Harp & Fiddle
What you do for a living: I am an insurance agent. My brother, Ed Coyne, and I own E.J. Coyne & Company Insurance, which has been located in Park Ridge for over 40 years.
How long you’ve lived here: Since 1990. My wife and I were married in 1989, and Park Ridge was the perfect midway point between her folks’ house and my folks’ house. Cheryl worked downtown then, and my office was here in Park Ridge, so both commutes were fairly painless. The schools are great. The parks are great. It didn’t take us long to decide that this was where we were going to raise our family.
What you like best about Park Ridge: The small-town attitude being in such close proximity to a world-class city.
Best meal you’ve had recently: The smoked brisket and wings with a Lone Star beer at the brand-new Mel’s Craft BBQ on Main Street.
Favorite restaurant in the area: Harp & Fiddle. The addition of Chef Jerry Kowalczyk to their team has broadened the menu choices, and their ongoing commitment to live music makes this a joyful place to spend a Friday night with family and friends.
Favorite “hidden gem” restaurant: Goldy’s Grill. Cash only. Breakfast and lunch only. Perfect start to our Saturday mornings. And Daniel’s Charcuterie. They have great wines paired with great meats and cheeses. Their charcuterie boards are easily enough for a meal for two.
Harp & Fiddle’s addition of Chef Jerry Kowalczyk has broadened the menu choices, and their ongoing commitment to live music makes this a joyful place to spend a Friday night.
Best bar to grab a drink or to catch the game: When we moved to Park Ridge, you’d have to go to Bailey’s and pretend you were waiting for a table in order to have a drink and watch the game. Now? So many choices.
I’d probably opt for Holt’s or Easy Street to watch a game, because nothing goes better with watching a football game than pizza? Harp & Fiddle has a lot of potential for watching sports, but they’re a Notre Dame bar so… ummm… well, no. I love Harp & Fiddle, but I even make them pull my Guinness into a non “ND” glass.
A great night out with friends usually includes… well-made cocktails, music, great food and Uber.
The best way to spend a Saturday in the summer: On my motorcycle with my wife, Cheryl, on her motorcycle right behind me. Typical Saturday would involve grabbing a pre-ride cup of coffee at Off the Wall Café followed by a ride up into southern Wisconsin or maybe west to the Rock River with breakfast and/or lunch along the way. If Cheryl thinks I could lose a little weight, she’ll suggest stopping at a state park or forest preserve for a “bike and hike.” That happens a couple times a month.
What’s something you look forward to every summer?
Well, this is new since the pandemic, but I look forward to the closing of Main Street for alfresco dining.
Favorite local store or best shopping area: Around the World Cigars. Al has a great selection of cigars, humidors and accessories. He’s knowledgeable about his products, and he’s been doing this at the same location for 25 years. The shop is one of the longest-running retail stores in Uptown.
Underrated activity in the area: Karaoke at S&T (formerly Sweet & Tart). Great fun. Folks should check it out.
In the summer, when the trees are full at the Wildwood Nature Center, you forget that you’re a stone’s throw from the third largest city and third busiest airport in the United States.
Secret spot: The Wildwood Nature Center. Nice walking path around two ponds. We almost always get to see a couple of kids or a parent and child fishing from one of the decks. In the summer, when the trees are full, you forget that you’re a stone’s throw from the third largest city and third busiest airport in the United States. They’ve recently built a shelter with a stone fireplace at one end, and I’m hoping to have a party (for no apparent occasion) there this fall.
Weekend getaway spot: Anywhere with my wife and two motorcycles.
What have you heard great things about but have yet to try?
Playing pickleball. The Park Ridge Park District is building courts at Woodland Park, and in my role as park commissioner, I heard from a lot of advocates of the sport. Seems like a great and fun way to get a little exercise, and that may save me from future “bike and hikes” (see above).