When the owner of America's Historic Roundhouse declared bankruptcy in February, the property was put up for auction and purchased by Two Brothers Brewery of Warrenville. The Aurora bar reopened in June with an all new menu and beer list showcasing the namesake beers.
Motif: Only the main dining and bar areas and outdoor space are currently in use, with the new owners still working on what to do with the rest of the sprawling 70,000-square-foot complex. One idea is to make a second venue under the same roof, with an independent menu.
Two Brothers Roundhouse205 N. Broadway, Aurora, (630) 264-2739, www.twobrothersroundhouse.com
Hours: 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
The decor is largely the same, although some decorations have been taken down to make the space feel more open. The brewery facilities will be replaced with more space-efficient equipment and Two Brothers is working on getting their license to brew on site. The gas fireplaces will also be replaced with more energy-efficient systems before they're turned on again.
Crowd: Many regulars and former customers from Warrenville's Two Brothers Tap House have been hanging out at Two Brothers Roundhouse. Families and seniors come in for early dinners, and large groups of twentysomethings like to visit later and take advantage of the spot's big booths and long tables.
Service: Two Brothers kept on much of America's Historic Roundhouse's staff, giving them a lot of training on the new offerings. Our server was extremely knowledgeable about the beer menu, able to describe every beer and offer tips on what we might like based on the brews we'd already tried. He was very friendly and checked in regularly throughout our visit.
Liquid consumption: While we were told the format might change, the $6 flights are currently a steal, getting you sizable glasses of any four Two Brothers beers. The list is excellent, with brews to suit all tastes from light but flavorful Roundhouse Imperial Pilsner to the dark Northwind Imperial Ale and the hoppy Hop Juice Double India Pale Ale. If you find one you like by sampling, glasses are affordable, ranging from $4 to $6. Look for beer tastings and dinners coming soon.
Food: The pretzels, nachos and fish tacos are the only remnants of the original Roundhouse menu. The new one will change seasonally, focusing on locally sourced, organic ingredients from the same suppliers as Two Brothers Tap House. Early favorites include the smoked cheddar and goat cheese spinach dip and pork belly or skirt steak tacos. The beer mussels are also catching on, which is no surprise since the dish is great, with the perfectly cooked seafood given a citrusy flavor from steaming in Ebel's Weiss broth blended with lemon grass.
Music: The bar has brought out a few acoustic cover bands to play in the courtyard, always keeping the volume low to allow conversation. More music is coming, though the owners are still working on deciding how they want to do it.
Parking: The restaurant features a massive free parking lot.
Overall: Two Brothers Roundhouse gives you a full taste of the brewery's offerings. And while changes are still in the offing, there's already much to like -- especially for beer lovers.