Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cheers to All-American ales


We're right in the middle of American Craft Beer Week, so it's time to give props to those local watering holes really spotlighting the best suds around:

Bluebird: Bucktown joint offers a hefty list small-batch, organic and biodynamic beers paired with flatbreads, wings and one of the best mac 'n' cheese entrees in town.

Bristol: Another Bucktown bar boasting an inventive menu of wild game and pork, Bristol also perfectly pairs beers with their daily specials.

Duchamp: Known best for its signature burger (which Chicago Magazine proclaimed "the best in the city"), the casually upscale eatery features an impressive list of hand-crafted beers.

Goose Island: With an on-site brewery and a new, more chef-focused (yet still downscaled) menu of mussels, burgers and flatbreads, Goose Island continues to be hotter than ever.

Moonshine: The Wicker Park pub installed their own on-site brewery last year—thanks to the efforts of a former Goose Island brewmaster. The beers not only complement the typical lunch and dinner offerings, but the Mexican-inspired brunch dishes as well.

Paramount Room: Daily dinner deals and sudsy steals are the focus at this River West spot in the middle of nowhere. Definitely a destination for the daily, hand-crafted beer flights, too.

Publican: The design may be all old-school Euro, but the beer list reads like an American classic. From rare finds that'll cost you $$$ to reasonably priced locals, nothing disappoints.

Risque Cafe: Surrounded by frat-boy bars and sports hangouts, this Lakeview lounge shines for Smut Night movie nights, bottomless bowls of mac 'n' cheese, $2 PBRs and an impressive list of ales made in the U.S. of A.

Sheffield's: The Lakeview bar with the massive outdoor beer garden offers more than just another large list of beers; every so often, Sheffield's hosts Beer School 101, dropping knowledge with interactive sessions.

Small Bar: There's actually nothing small at all about the beer and burger list at this Division Street bar popular with neighborhood types. And the daily specials, including $4 Half Acre drafts and $1 off Two Brothers, keep 'em coming back.

Sign of the times . . .


There's been two more casualties of the economy: Asian-focused eatery Le Lan, in River North; and the American contemporary Soul in Claredon Hills.

Owner Howard Davis (a former partner in Marche, Red Light, Gioco) had this to say about the closings:

“We had to close due to a downturn in business that we attribute to the current economic situation. We appreciate all of the great effort our staff made over the years in creating very high quality restaurants and we are grateful to all of our customers who supported us over the years.”