A flag hanging next to the bar at St. Charles' White Stag Tavern proudly proclaims "You're in Steelers country." You don't have to root for Pittsburgh, or even be in the midst of football season, to find something to like at this ultracasual, laid-back sports bar.
Motif: When White Stag opened in August, owners envisioned the place as a British pub. They quickly switched to a sports theme, with four flat-screen TVs tuned to games in the bar area. Decor is quite simple -- beer logo mirrors, a couple of pool tables and basic seating at tables near the bar and in a larger area off to the side. A suit of armor stands near the door, a leftover perhaps from the bar's brief British pub days.
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White Stag Tavern1307 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 444-3570
Hours: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily
Crowd: Expect a mix of sports fans and after-work folks unwinding with a beer. Our waiter was wearing a ball cap and hoodie, so clearly the look is casual.
Service: The staff seemed friendly and accommodating. Our waiter was quick to see if we wanted refills but never hovered or pushed. He also doubled as bartender the night we visited and chatted warmly with a group of what appeared to be regulars eating at the bar.
Food: Wings are the big item here, and White Stag cooks up 13 varieties -- from mild to menacing. Our waiter warned us off the signature mega-hot ghost wings, with good reason. The bar challenges the brave -- or perhaps the foolhardy -- to down six five-alarm wings and six ghost wings in 15 minutes, all without drinking or dipping. Some 60 people have tried; thus far only one has succeeded.
We weren't looking to add to that number, so we were checking out the alternatives, leaning toward a mix of teriyaki and spicy garlic, when our server returned with bad news: They were out.
Bummed but not defeated, we turned to other familiar bar fare. The onion rings proved crisp and not-at-all greasy, and dinner was even better. A burger and the grilled chicken sandwich were both moist and well-prepared; the fries -- thick and nicely seasoned -- were worth a trip all their own.
Liquid consumption: Beer is the drink of choice, and you'll find 12 on tap and about 20 available by the bottle. Mixed drinks are always an option, and you'll find all the usual house wines.
Parking: There is parking in the lot.
Overall: If you're looking to test your taste buds, give the five-alarm or ghost wings a try and see whether White Stag lives up to its claim of "hottest wings anywhere." And if you're not, just sit back and enjoy the good food and laid-back atmosphere.