3535 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60657
Where can you and 499 of your friends go to hang out after a Cubs game and have the option to try roughly 17 different craft brews at any given time? Goose Island Brewery’s Wrigleyville Brewpub, that’s where. While at this time of year your chance of catching the Cubbies are pretty slim, what with the field currently being used as an ice skating rink and all, you can still pop into this cozy yet spacious pub for good eats and more importantly, great beer.
Goose Island is a brewery that I’ve seen products from in bars and grocery stores everywhere, but somehow despite living a mere half mile away from one of their two brewpub locations for the past two years, I had never stepped foot inside one of their fine establishments. I finally corrected that mistake a few weeks back when my boyfriend and I popped in looking for a relaxed weeknight meal on our way home from work. Walking into Goose Island around Christmastime was an extra bonus, because in addition to the lovely dark wood décor there were tasteful white lights lacing the ceiling and a handsome tree all decked out and standing proudly in front of the massive iron spiral staircase that led up to the pub’s second floor. One of my favorite things about local brewery restaurants is the knowledge that the drink I’m enjoying came to me from just a few feet behind a closed door and in Goose Island’s case, it comes from behind the large window along the restaurant’s back wall, where shadows of boil kettles and fermentation vessels can be seen from where diners sit.
Not only does Goose Island specialize in craft beers, but they also dabble in craft sodas, ensuring that everyone can have a specialty beverage no matter what their age. I tried the naturally flavored Spicy Ginger Soda, made with 100% cane sugar and can 100% say that it was good enough to make me consider skipping the beer entirely on my next Goose visit. We also had a glass of Matilda, which was ordered on whim and proved to be a gamble worth taking. Next time around (if I’m not utterly seduced by that soda) I have a feeling that grabbing a growler to go will be a major priority.
After our palates were cleansed and our thirst slaked, it was time to get down to what we came for: the eats. I went for the veggie burger, which carried a nice texture for something homemade (in my previous experience pretty much anything made with visually apparent veggies tends to crumble in your hands while only the stout meat substitutes can hold their shape). The Goose Island veggie burger got a little help staying in patty form from a dollop of olive tapenade, curried carrots and crumbled goat cheese, all sitting between two slices of pretty, albeit boring, ciabatta bread. This was a roll that looked nicer than it tasted and didn’t seem artisan as much as it seemed like your average white toast. While at first I was over the moon about the tapenade, after two bites it became overwhelming and I felt like I had licked the inside of an aluminum can. The curried carrots were a pleasant distraction from the olive invasion, but didn’t pack quite as much flavor as I expected. I opted for a variety of seasonal veggies as my side and was very pleased with the lightly peppered collection of squash, zucchini and bell peppers I received. My dining partner had a specialty burger for that day, which included horseradish mayo, a sunny-side egg and a beet, but having seen that combo done better with Revolution Brewing’s Farm Burger, we both were rather unimpressed. It was a good burger, but not a great one.
All in all I walked away from Goose Island content with my meal. While I probably wouldn’t pay $10 for the veggie burger a second time, it certainly wasn’t enough to steer me away from ever trying the other delights on Goose’s menu. Besides, despite our excuse that we were hungry and Goose Island was on the way home, I think we all know the real reason we chose Goose was for a nice glass of well crafted beer, and it doesn’t get any more authentic than drinking right from the source.
by Sam Gordon