Chicago's Old Town Pour House opened a location at the Oak Brook Center mall in November, bringing its massive selection of draft beer paired with American fare to the suburbs. It was a hit, and now the chain is setting its sights on further expansion, updating its menu before opening in Maryland.
Motif: Copper-inlaid tables, ivory chairs and dark colors give the space a sophisticated vibe. There's a 103-inch TV in the center of the bar and 14 more 50-inch screens throughout the space, typically tuned to sports. The large patio is equipped with two more TVs built into the brick walls above the fireplace. Set with black wicker chairs, the outdoor tables are lined by flower beds and lights.
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Old Town Pour House8 Oak Brook Center, Oak Brook, (630) 601-1440, oldtownpourhouse.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Food: Old Town Pour House launched a spring/summer menu in May, swapping out 80 percent of its dishes and updating many of the others. The bar makes as much of its food from scratch as possible, doing their own pickling and smoking and even making their own tortillas. Beer is so important here you'll also find it cooked into some of the dishes.
Current offerings feature some nice light fare like the togarashi tuna, spice-crusted raw fish served with wasabi cream and a slaw of sliced apples and bell peppers, and the beet salad, which features poached pear, a bed of greens and a ball of goat cheese. For something heartier, try the fillet sliders, with thick-cut meat served on pretzel buns with caramelized onions, horseradish and a cornichon, plus a side of fries. The barbecue chicken is lightly spicy, tempered with a heaping portion of creamy grits and charred beet greens.
If you can save room, the butterscotch bread pudding is excellent. It's served in a skillet and tastes like great French toast -- crispy on the sides and fluffy in the middle. A scoop of rum raisin ice cream on top quickly melts and the bread nicely soaks in the flavor.
Liquid consumption: Old Town Pour House has 90 beers on tap including a rotating list of 11 seasonal beers that can change while you're visiting as kegs run out and are switched in. It's an overwhelming amount, so if you can't choose, try a flight of four brews served on a sheet of paper with descriptions of each one so you'll remember what you're drinking. The flight offerings also change regularly, focusing on different themes such as wheat beer, local beer or even ciders. You can also order a tasting sized pour of anything on the menu.
Not a beer fan? The bar also has eight wines on tap that are served by the glass or beaker, plus dozens more available by the bottle. There's also an extensive whiskey selection and a small cocktail menu.
Crowd: Old Town Pour House brings in huge crowds almost every night. You'll find everything from young guys in shorts and baseball caps chilling on the patio to well-dressed professionals of all ages coming in for dinner and drinks after work. The bar only takes reservations for 40 percent of its seats, so it's a good idea to call ahead, but you can still get lucky walking in.
Service: Our very friendly server was good at recommending beer and dishes, promoting her favorites while also telling us what the most popular options were and suggesting beers to suit our tastes. When we asked for a particular type of brew, she rattled off options quickly, a testament to the restaurant's education program. When we ordered a salad to share, she brought it out divided onto two plates.
Parking: The mall has a free lot, but it can be hard to find a space nearby. The restaurant also provides valet parking for $4.
Overall: Take advantage of the nice weather while it's here and enjoy some summery food and brews on Old Town Pour House's lovely patio.