Saturday, July 21, 2007
Weekend Watering Hole: Hopleaf Bar, Chicago, Ill.
As a regular weekend feature, Lyke2Drink will visit some of the world's great watering holes. This week we find ourselves in the Windy City at a place that brings a bit of Brussels to the Midwest.
5148 N. Clark St.
Clark Street in Chicago has more drinking options than most cities have in their entire metropolitan area. There are bars and restaurants of just about every imaginable style. A few even qualify as word class places to enjoy a brew. The Hopleaf Bar is one of them.
The Hopleaf is in the Andersonville neighborhood and has an unassuming front bar room that has a combination of stools along the bar, small wooden tables and booths where patrons can sip from a very nice draught selection and a solid list of bottled brews. The Hopleaf's approach to beer is part Midwest micro beer, part national and international craft beer and an impressive collection of Belgian brews of various styles. The draught list includes Goose Island, Three Floyds, Two Brothers, St Bernardus, DeProef, Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet, among others.
While the front room is a nice way to spend an evening, it is the back room at the Hopleaf that sets it apart. A two tiered dining room that comes equipped with a wood burning stove for those cold Chicago winters houses the Hopleaf's restaurant area. Brick walls and beer memorabilia set the mood and the menu delivers a Belgian theme. During our visit we enjoyed a pot of the mussels for two ($20) that included mussels steamed in Wittekerke Whie Ale, with shallots, celery, thyme and bay leaf and a healthy supply of frites with a garlic aioli. Several hunks of bread were perfect for soaking up the wonderful broth at the bottom of the pot.
The staff knows its way around the beer selection and offered some good recommendations. The beers were all fresh, served in the proper glassware and at the right temperature. That's something we should expect as beer drinkers, but often do not get.
We found our visit to the Hopleaf to be enjoyable and reasonably priced. It's worth venturing to the Northside of Chicago.