I saw this place from the train on my way home from the city one day and immediately added it to my list of places to try. Less than 24 hours later, I was checking it out. And boy, am I glad I did!
First, the beverage concept. How awesome! It's described in detail in other reviews, on their website and they even have a YouTube video about how it works, so I won't go into details, but it's fantastic! I was able to try several beers until I settled on one for dinner and then one for after. The best part was (depending on how you look at it) the beer that I thought I would like - I didn't! But I found two others that I did not think I would like. To me, that is the major benefit of concept. Also, I would only get maybe half a glass at a time, so I was assured to have a cold beer at all times!
Second, the food. Both times I have gone, the food has been very good. The first time I ordered the BBQ port sandwich with spicy BBQ sauce and the sidewinder fries. The BBQ was pretty decent. My friend got something with the regular or sweet (forgot what they call the other) sauce, so I was able to compare. My recommendation is to always get spicy. It's not all that spicy, but it is more flavorful than the regular. The fries are where it's at. Get them. Don't pass them up. I also got the cornbread, mostly as a vehicle to try the maple butter because hey - maple, and, butter. It was okay. I don't know if I would get it again.
The second time I went I got a burger, and the burger was very good. Which is good, for the prices they charge it needed to be. More on that later. Of course, I got the fries again. Just do it.
Lastly, let's talk about service, overall ambiance, etc. They are very helpful at the check in desks where you get the magical card that allows you to order food and work the taps. They will explain the whole thing to you, so feel free to ask questions. And just an FYI - if you are uneasy about giving your credit card, you can give your drivers license if that's any more comforting. Not so much for me. One little note - just give them a credit card. Much easier to report lost or stolen if needed. And not a debit card! You have some protection and get your money back a lot quicker should something happen with a credit card. Trust me. However, I have watched the people who man the desks. They do a nice job at making sure that the desks are always attended, and the boxes in which they keep the cards/IDs are always put away when not in use. Make sure if you come in the back door there is a desk back there - you just need to come up towards the tap a bit.
My only dealings with staff other than at the desks have been when they messed up an order the second time I was there. Hey, it happens, and they fixed it promptly. So no complaints.
As far as ambiance, I love the look of the place, but I have a few minor things that irk me about the place. First, they need to have ordering tablets available for all the tables. In this day and age, they should be able to find wireless tablets for the tables that do not have them. Second, there needs to be more tables. There is a whole center section that is empty. While they have barrels there - I'm not sure what they are supposed to accomplish. Put some high tops there or something. The place does get very loud when full. Heck, it gets loud if someone loud is in there. The first time I was there was a Sunday. The place was empty, but there was a family with three small children (why at a tap room?) who were screaming at the top of their lungs and even knocked over a chair or two (they were LOVELY children.) I get kids will be kids, but the parents acted like it was their living room. Anyway, the sound reverberated off the walls. The second time there was a birthday party, and a bunch of tables were reserved, and the rest of place was full... it got to be too much. Not sure if there is a way to hang some sound dampening panels or something? Not a deal breaker, just something to think about. Unless they are waiting to move to a bigger space...which I would totally support!
Oh, and finally, yes, the food is pricey. It does, however, include tax and gratuity. But, can I also point out that both times I have gone, I have had a sandwich what has totaled probably at least 2-3 beers for $20-$30. I spend that when I go other places and order the same thing. I'm not sure how, but I guess paying for beer by the ounce balances it out in the end.
Overall, check this place out! And city people, get on the Union Pacific West line out of Ogilvie and take it to Elmhurst! It's worth it!
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