Goose Island Clybourn
It’s been a long time since we’ve been back to Chicago…even longer since we’ve actually been in the city. Since I work Saturday’s, it’s hard for us to go home.
My mom planned a baby shower for Sunday so I decided to use a vacation day and go home Friday night after work. I figured J and I could use a night out so I started making plans.
The plan turned out to be dinner and a show. I’ve always wanted to go to a show at The Second City so I got tickets. Unfortunately, I found out too late that I actually had the day off and the tickets for the 8:00 show were sold out. That meant we had to go to an 11:00 show. That meant, dinner got pushed back until 9:00.
As I was scouting out the Goose Island on Clybourn, I noticed they were on Open Table. I didn’t know if we’d actually need reservations, but I made them anyway just in case.
Goose Island began in 1988 in the building on Clybourn Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. A bigger brewery was built in 1995 on Fulton Street but the brewpub on Clybourn remained opened. A second brewpub was opened in 1999 in Wrigleyville….but who wants to get that close to Wrigley :)
Goose Island started as a craft brew typical of what we have here in Michigan. They have a number of regular brews as well as the special and seasonal brews we’ve all come to love. Their most popular is the 312 Urban Wheat Ale which is pretty widely available on taps throughout the city.
The unfortunate thing…or fortunate depending on how you look a it, is that Goose Island is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. While they still brew in the spirit of the small craft, the truth of the matter is they’re now part of a large domestic beer producer.
J and I showed up for our reservation about fifteen minutes early. The brewpub is in a small strip mall on Clybourn and Willow in Lincoln Park. There is a large parking lot that is shared by the brewpub and the other businesses in the shopping center….and that parking lot is free. A rarity in the city.
The brewpub is divided in to two sections. When you enter the building from the parking lot, you come to a large waiting area and a hostess station. If you go past this and to the left, you can enter the bar. We didn’t really go in this area other than to use the bathrooms, but it was pretty packed. Lots of people hanging around drinking on a Saturday night.
Immediately to your right when you walk in is a two tiered dining room. The hostess grabbed a couple menus and took us up to the upper level. The seating is pretty typical to Chicago dining. The tables are all lined up with a long bench running along the wall and chairs on the opposite side. On busy nights, they can really pack you using this configuration to the point where it could become uncomfortable. This was not a super busy night, so we actually had a comfortable distance between us and the tables next to us. The only bad thing was the table was unlevel and there was nothing on the table that we could use to level it out. Everytime I touched the table, it tipped toward me and that made J uncomfortable.
We started with drinks and once again, I dragged my pregnant wife to a brewery. She got a water w/lemon. Since I can get 312 pretty much anywhere in Chicago, I decided to try the Midway IPA instead. The beer had a dark color with a pretty good size head that held up for several minutes. There was a hint of citrus mixed in with the hoppiness of the beer which made it go down pretty smooth. I kind of milked it only because I wanted to get a beer at the show, so I couldn’t go overboard at dinner.
Dinner was a pretty easy choice for me. The Clybourn pub has a pretty good menu that focuses on local food. The menu changes with the season, so what they find at the Farmers’ Market determines what ends up on the menu. Oh, and the pork they use…it’s fed the leftover spent grain…they call it beer fed pork…
I got the Prime Cheddar Burger and added on the house cured bacon and a fried egg. The sandwich? Amazing. The USDA Prime beef was cooked with a perfect pink center. The fried egg was just barely cooked so the yolk was solid and the house cured bacon was super crispy. The sandwich was served on a brioche roll with a side of skin on, thin cut french fries. For a special night out, this burger and beer was exactly what I wanted.
J wanted to go with something a little lighter because whenever we go to Chicago, we go nuts when it comes to eating. The food in that city is soooooo good. She ordered the Autumn Salad which is a bed of mixed greens that really is mixed greens. There were a number of different fresh greens on the plate. It was topped with Seedling pears poached in Pere Jacques, bleu cheese, smoked cashews, Growing Powers kale, and a pear vinaigrette. She was extremely happy with her selection and commented several times about the different types of greens. So many places get lazy and “mixed greens” means iceberg and romaine. That was definitely not the case with this salad.
After finishing our meals, we considered dessert, but I had something else in mind. I really wanted another beer, but thought it might be better if I don’t. Our bill was just over $33 before tip and we still had plenty of time before we could even get in to our show.
Goose Island is a must in Chicago. If you’re a craft beer drinker, don’t pass it up because of their St. Louis connection. The beer is still made in Chicago and they pare it with some fantastic food.