Live music, sports, burgers and bingo: Elmhurst's Cottage Hill Station has it all

 
By Eric Scott
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/26/2017 10:59 AM
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  • Bartender Lex Viyella mixes up a Bloody Mary at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst.

      Bartender Lex Viyella mixes up a Bloody Mary at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Indulge in a red velvet mudslide at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst.

      Indulge in a red velvet mudslide at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Bartender Lex Viyella mixes up a Bloody Mary at Cottage Hill Station.

      Bartender Lex Viyella mixes up a Bloody Mary at Cottage Hill Station. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The tin ceiling adds interest to the first-floor dining room at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap.

      The tin ceiling adds interest to the first-floor dining room at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Back on Jan. 20, downtown Elmhurst welcomed the grand opening of Cottage Hill Station. From watching sports to hearing live music and even playing a little bingo -- this addition to Elmhurst's growing pub crawl scene is an inviting nightspot for its entertainment as well as its menu.

Motif: It's the train station where you wish your commute from downtown ended after a long day at the office.

This new, railroad-themed nightspot is housed inside a two-story vintage building that features a lot of old-school railway decor mixed in with new-era flat-screen monitors and even a digital jukebox. Dozens of single light bulbs hang from the ceiling and brighten up the dark wood floor and chairs. It's a mix of the old and new under the theme of "Friendly Gathering Place," which is a prominent sign as you walk up to the front door. There's also an outdoor beer garden in the back, but it was too rainy and cold on the day we visited for even the heartiest of alfresco diners.

Liquid consumption: There are plenty of taps at the bar for those who prefer a cold draft. The beer list features a wide variety of craft brews and usual brands found at every bar, but it isn't overwhelming at first glance.

Local brews include a few choices from Revolution Brewing, Goose Island and Lagunitas breweries in Chicago. My choice on this visit was Revolution's seasonal "A Little Crazy" ale, which was more straight down the middle -- not too heavy, not too light and I'm still searching for the crazy part.

Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst opened in January.
  Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst opened in January. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

We didn't see a mixed drink menu and didn't find one on the Cottage Hill website as of this writing, but the bar was fully stocked with wines and spirits.

Food: Ever have an Irish egg roll? It consists of corned beef, shredded cabbage, creamy pepper jack cheese and stone ground mustard all rolled into a fried won ton wrapper. That's just one of the starters. Others include comfort food like deep-fried cheese curds and Cottage Hill's own signature CHS wings, chicken strips and nachos.

Burgers are big at Cottage Hill. My Straight Up Burger, featuring an 8-ounce angus beef patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and avocado was fantastic and filling … very filling. Other burgers include the Southside Irish Burger with Irish bacon, Dubliner cheese, a fried egg and coleslaw and the Latino Burger with chorizo, guacamole and chipotle mayo.

Not a burger fan? The menu also features sandwiches, wraps, fish tacos, salads and even a kids' menu with mac and cheese.

Belly up to the bar for a drink at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst.
  Belly up to the bar for a drink at Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap in Elmhurst. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Service: During our late-afternoon lunch when the crowd was sparse, we still had to wave our server over a few times in order to get her attention. She also wasn't up to speed on what gluten-free options were available. Once we ordered, food and drinks were served fairly quickly in the spacious first-floor dining area, which has tables alongside the bar.

Crowd: At Cottage Hill Station, there's an upstairs crowd and a downstairs crowd. Downstairs is primarily for bellying up to the bar, having lunch or dinner and watching sports on flat screens spaced out on every wall. Above the bar are two noticeable red fire truck lights that I asked about. Not only do they "fire up" for Blackhawks goals but, "they're really good for letting the crowd know when we're closing," our server said.

The upstairs crowd gathers for rock bands playing on certain nights, special events and even an old favorite that was probably played in this building when it was first built -- bingo. I don't think the fire truck lights go off above the bar when someone wins at bingo, but that would be kind of cool. Join in the fun at 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap opened recently in downtown Elmhurst.
  Cottage Hill Station Kitchen & Tap opened recently in downtown Elmhurst. - Mark Black | Staff Photographer

Music: With the divided space on separate floors, plus outdoor seating and different events happening on different nights, expect a variety of tunes -- from classic rock and indie guitar favorites to top 40 hits and country -- depending on what band is playing or the types of songs selected on the downstairs digital jukebox.

Parking: Located just south of the Elmhurst Metra station, the bar benefits from plenty of downtown street parking and public garages nearby. There is parking up and down York Street, but you may have to walk a few blocks depending on the night.

Overall: Cottage Hill Station seems to be carving out its niche as a "something for everyone" venue. As the place ramps up for its first summer of business, the beer garden should draw crowds on warm evenings. And when the weather doesn't cooperate, there's plenty of room inside, whether you want to party upstairs or relax and watch a game or two downstairs.

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