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posted: 7/19/2013 5:00 AM

Naperville's Wise Boxer pairs American fare with craft beers

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  • Bartender Reece Suarez serves a beer at the Wise Boxer Pour House, a new bar/club in downtown Naperville.

       Bartender Reece Suarez serves a beer at the Wise Boxer Pour House, a new bar/club in downtown Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Patrons relax on the third floor of the Wise Boxer Pour House.

       Patrons relax on the third floor of the Wise Boxer Pour House.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Patrons relax on the second floor of the Wise Boxer Pour House, a new bar/club on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Naperville.

       Patrons relax on the second floor of the Wise Boxer Pour House, a new bar/club on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • The Wise Boxer Pour House took over the old location of BlackFinn American Saloon in Naperville.

       The Wise Boxer Pour House took over the old location of BlackFinn American Saloon in Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Jim Bergeron is the owner of the Wise Boxer Pour House in downtown Naperville.

       Jim Bergeron is the owner of the Wise Boxer Pour House in downtown Naperville.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Debbie and Steve Orozco of Naperville enjoy a drink at Wise Boxer.

       Debbie and Steve Orozco of Naperville enjoy a drink at Wise Boxer.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • The Wise Boxer Pour House seeks to be more of a restaurant first, then a bar.

       The Wise Boxer Pour House seeks to be more of a restaurant first, then a bar.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • A long stairwell connects floors of the Wise Boxer Pour House.

       A long stairwell connects floors of the Wise Boxer Pour House.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
By Samantha Nelson
Daily Herald Correspondent

New owners took over BlackFinn American Saloon's former space in Naperville at the end of May. While the look is still the same, The Wise Boxer Pour House is offering an entirely new menu of American fare with a gourmet flair, paired with a menu of craft beers meant to make the place more of a dining destination than purely a late-night hangout.

Motif: Wise Boxer kept BlackFinn's decor with plenty of TVs tuned to sports, leather booths with their own TV sets and small round tables set with tall stools. The upstairs areas, which can be used for overflow seating or private parties, mirror the same layout and there's an enclosed upstairs patio strung with lights that provides a place to enjoy the weather and chat without the loud music that can dominate the indoor spaces. The new owner plans to replace the Americana artwork, like a portrait of George Washington, with images of breweries and pieces for sale from local artists.

Crowd: The spot draws mostly casually dressed couples and small groups and plenty of big parties taking advantage of the upstairs rooms. While lunch and dinner have been bringing in bigger crowds than BlackFinn did, late night has been a bit slow.

Food: The goal of Pour House is to be a restaurant first and a bar second, so you won't see any sports bar standards like mozzarella sticks or wings here. The menu of entirely handmade food is still under development, so they've been printing it on paper to enable easy changes, but popular dishes have included tuna poke and beef carpaccio with white truffle oil. They also have a separate pastry chef whipping up treats like key lime panna cotta and espresso napoleons.

Liquid consumption: Beer is the focus here with an excellent selection of craft brews including Southern Tier Hop Sun and Lakefront Fixed Gear. While they're still running out of some stock from BlackFinn, the goal is to transition the entire list to craft beers and triple the number of craft bottles they stock.

Service: We were quickly greeted by a bartender who introduced himself and his colleague by name so we could flag them down with our orders. When I asked what a beer was like, the bartender happily poured me a taster so I could find out for myself.

Music: DJs spin Friday and Saturday nights and you can catch live acoustic music downstairs on Thursdays. On Wednesday, the bar plans to alternate between live band karaoke and DJs spinning country music.

Parking: There's a free lot nearby, though finding a spot can be tricky when downtown Naperville is bustling.

Overall: The changes at this venue are already worth checking out and with more in the works, Wise Boxer Pour House promises to become a new destination for Naperville diners and drinkers.

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