Saturday, September 12, 2015

Breakroom Brewery

As many of my friends know, I like beer.  Generally though, I like to eat when I am drinking which makes a brewpub with good food ideal.  There are several breweries in the Chicago area that fill that description.  A brewery in Albany Park, Breakroom Brewery,  aims to add to that number with good beer and the opening chef from The Gage, Dirk Flanigan, a gastropub that I also really like. Built out of the front of a woodshop that specializes in building bars, Heineman Bar Company, the space really shows it with a beautiful wood bar, barrel high tops, communal tables, and wood booths.  The space has high unfinished ceilings with a stair leading to a catwalk where you can overlook the bar and brewery.  There are windows at the back of the dining area that look into the woodshop over which hang a couple of carved and stained wooden flags.  The brewery is located on either side of the dining room and the kitchen is semi-open and located in the rear corner.  Even the logo of the brewery emphasizes the wood shop, using a large circular saw blade.  There is a chalkboard on the wall listing the beers that are on tap.  Since this was a new brewery to me and they offer tasting portions, I decided to try several to try and get a feel about what they were about as a brewery.  While they did have a couple of high gravity beers (high alcohol), it seems that they emphasize beers that are drinkable, most falling in the 5-6% ABV range.  I ordered Alise, a farmhouse ale, Mo' Psyche, a rye IPA, and Galactic Dream, an American pale ale made with Galactic hops.  They were all pretty good, but I preferred the Rye IPA.  It was hoppy, as IPA's are supposed to be, but it was not a hop bomb and was very drinkable.
Looking at the food menu, the first thing that I noticed was that the prices were lowere than I would expect.  This implied to me that the dish sizes were on the small size so I thought I should order an extra course to make sure I had a full meal.  I found, when everything arrived at once, that I was mistaken and the prices were just low.  I started things off with Pork Rinds which were served with Sea Salt, Pepper, and Malt Vinegar on the side.  I am generally not terribly impressed with pork rinds (or Chicharones, depending on where you are), but after having the pork rinds at The Publican, I am willing to give them a shot when I see them on the menu.  These pork rinds were served in a lunch bag and were pretty warm.  They were curled up as you would expect from pork rinds and were of all different sizes, some pieces being pretty big.  They were also crunchy and melted in your mouth.  The salt and pepper added a little spice to the porky flavor and while it was good on its own, the malt vinegar added some tang.
I also ordered a Scotch Egg, which is one of Chef Dirk Flanigan's signature dishes.  Normally a Scotch egg consists of a Hard Boiled Egg wrapped in Sausage, Breaded, deep fried, and served with some country mustard.  This was essentially an Asian vegetarian version.  It was served on a cutting board over salad greens.  The hard boiled egg was wrapped in Lentil Falafel and fried.  It was topped with country mustard, but also had a dish of Sambal, a Southeast Asian condiment made with Chili Peppers, Shallots, Garlic and Shrimp Paste.  I like lentils in any case, but I think that the falafel made a good substitution for the sausage that is normally used and while the country mustard did add a little spice, the sambal added as much fire as you might want.
My main course made me question my sanity.  I got a Roast Pork Shank with Blue Cheese, Stout Polenta, and Salad Greens and it was enormous.  The Shank was fall off the bone tender, the stout polenta added a richness with a little bitterness from the stout with paired well with the bitterness from the salad greens. and the sweet bitterness from the blue cheese went well with everything else.  With the size of all of these courses, I ended up taking home leftovers which rarely happens.
While I was full by the time I got to dessert, I couldn't pass up dessert and they luckily had something that I thought might be easier to eat after all I had already eaten.  I ordered what they called their House Root Beer Float with Stout.  As they were not presently making a Stout, they substituted a Dunkel, the dark lager version of a Stout, which is an ale.  It also had their House Root Beer and Vanilla Ice Cream.  It was really good.  The dunkel and root beer went together well and with the ice cream, was a perfect combination of sweet and herbal. 

I really liked my time here and I know that I will return, because I have already returned once while they were serving brunch since the first time I came.  The space is beautiful, the staff is friendly and the food and beer are really good.      

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