As sure as right is right, wrong is wrong and tautologies are redundant restatements of fact, Abraham Lincoln is Council Bluffs’ favorite president for reasons destined to be manifestly obvious to readers.
Lincoln was the first American president to visit this fair berg in 1859, when he designated it the starting point of the transcontinental railroad. Today, at that spot on Lafayette Avenue where 5½ generations of adolescents have broken curfew, a monument to Lincoln’s stands high above a very fine gastropub that also bears his name.
Lincoln’s Pub sits where Dixie Quicks used to in CB’s historic 100 Block. Established roughly five months ago, it is turning into a worthy successor. The interior has the organic feel of a lovingly remodeled historic building with patches of exposed brick, a bit of old graffiti, an open ceiling design and many beautiful antique signs. The picnic tables, wine racks and planters were made by local iron artisan Chris Fricke.
Char, my friendly neighborhood bartender, told me some history of the building, and when I asked about a Miller High Life “On Tap” sign, she assured me the indisputable champagne of American domestic beers would be on tap in the near future along with pool tables in the former RNG Gallery space.
While I was chatting up Char about the extensive food menu, owner Jon Nelson made an unexpected but kismetic appearance. So I grilled him a little. His inspiration came from those nights at the Monument, said Nelson, the former owner of Cellar 19. Nelson currently owns Jon’s Naturals, a butcher shop in McLelland, Iowa, selling only locally sourced, vegetarian-fed meats raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, crates or stalls. He dry-ages his steaks for two weeks and sells them from an antique case up front. Added Nelson, “We have the best farmland in our backyard, so why buy meat from New Jersey?”
Draught beers include Zipline Brewing’s refreshing Kölsch, Boulevard’s Tank 7 (an American saison) and Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blue. Two Brickways on tap are One Way IPA and Coffee Vanilla Stout. Keg Creek rounds it out with Brick Red Ale and Apricot Wheat. All are $5 to $7 a pint. There are also 25 canned beers, from high-end crafts like Dogfish Head Seaquench Sour Ale ($6) down to proletarian selections like PBR and Busch Light ($3.50).
Eight signature cocktails averaging $8.50 spice up the drinks menu: Bourbon Milk Punch (peach/pecan-infused bourbon, milk, honey water and nutmeg), Cucumber Lemon Press (cucumber-infused vodka, lemonade, soda), Perfect Cuban Manhattan (dark rum, sweet and dry vermouth, honey water, bitters) and Abe’s Old Fashioned, to name a few.
If parking is a paramount priority, don’t panic — it’s plentiful. Check Google Maps’ satellite view to see the wide-open vista that is 100 Block parking.
Lincoln’s Pub will honestly take more than a few visits to wrap one’s head around. I look forward to a return visit, and hope to see you there.