When a fire destroyed the Brauer House in Hillside in 2008, the bar's owner wasn't deterred. In February 2011, he joined with a friend from high school to reopen the bar in Lombard, bringing in a new group of beer and music lovers.
Motif: The spot features low wooden tables in the middle of the space. Booths are arranged along the walls, with caged light bulbs dangling overhead. The area around the long bar features TVs tuned to sports, a chalkboard spelling out the beer list and large hanging chandeliers. The walls are eclectically decorated, featuring a giant swordfish, mounted skateboards, and posters advertising concerts and old horror movies.
Brauer House1000 N. Rohlwing Road, Lombard, (630) 495-2141, brauerhouse.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday
An outdoor patio, dotted with umbrella-topped metal tables and chairs, is a haven for both smokers and people looking for a quieter space for conversation.
Service: The employees at Brauer House tend to be into piercings, tattoos and hair dye, but don't let any of that intimidate you. Everyone we interacted with was very friendly, from the guys taking cover charges at the doors, to our server who kindly told us when the kitchen was closing so we could get in orders and kept checking back to make sure we were good on both beer and water.
Food: The menu offers higher-end bar food including quirky burgers like the Rosemary's Baby, which features sautéed mushrooms, rosemary, bacon, garlic aioli and Gruyere. The cracker-crust pizza also offers plenty of unusual toppings like black beans, pancetta and blue cheese. A new menu is in the works, which will offer lighter options like fish tacos, along with wings and additional classic bar fare.
Liquid consumption: Brauer House boasts an impressive seasonally changing draft list, including Rogue Dead Guy Ale and New Holland Dragon's Milk, with plenty more brews available by the bottle.
Music: Live music is the focus at Brauer House, which hosts an open mic Wednesdays, cover bands Thursdays, and local and touring acts Fridays and Saturdays. Rock is the focus, but you can also catch punk, blues and rockabilly acts. Sunday is karaoke, and DJs spin after 10 p.m. Tuesdays. While there's no actual live music involved, fans also enjoy playing punk rock vs. heavy metal bingo on Mondays, competing to win prizes from the bar's vendors.
Cover: Some shows are free, but the cover can go to $8 or $9 for their bigger acts. The standard admission is $5.
Crowd: The size and age of the crowd depends largely on the acts, with punk shows bringing in younger groups and rockabilly and blues performances appealing to older fans. Either way, the bar is almost always busy with enthusiastic music lovers. The spot also attracts a huge number of car and bike enthusiasts with its Thursday night shows, where hundreds of vehicles from classics to Japanese cars take over the parking lot. Brauer House is currently hosting a custom-designed motorcycle that will be raffled off to help build a skate park in Villa Park.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the bar's free lot.
Overall: The reborn Brauer House seriously rocks.