Goose Island Brewing (Clyborn)
1800 N Clybourn Ave
Visited on October 7, 2007
And here’s yet another not-quite-top-10, this time coming from the great state of Illinois. Goose Island’s original location is fantastic. Big, beautiful, sweeping rooms with lots of woodwork, bar games, and most definitely space. Throw in a famous burger and pub-exclusive brews that will knock your socks off, and you’ve got yourself an excellent brewpub.
It isn’t often one gets to visit a legend for the first time, and even more rare that the legend doesn’t disappoint. What a location! A gigantic bar featuring plenty of seating and plasma screens augmented by several large rooms and a loft complete with pool tables. This place is, in a word, huge! The décor is what one would expect from a highly successful local legend, reminiscent of Applebee’s, but not as cheesy or predictable.
An expansive menu blends elegant entrees with well-designed pub fare. I was going light on the lunch that day and ordered two mini-burgers—which are exact replicas of their bigger brothers (what a great way to sample different burgers!) The fried walleye sandwich was not only a pleasant surprise (who carries walleye!?) but absolutely done to perfection with only a simple tartar sauce as accompaniment. And now I shall tell you about the Stetson Burger. It’s their signature burger and I capitalized the name for a reason. It’s magnificent. I would eat this every day if you’d let me. It was a perfectly cooked burger on a rye bun with bacon and feta cheese. I have a feeling everything on this menu is worth the money (which is surprisingly not too bad for Chicago) and I really need to try a full-sized Stetson Burger and try some dessert.
Not only are all of their old standby’s great (Honker’s Ale, 312 Wheat, Nut Brown, etc.) but they have a huge selection of specialty brews you can’t get out of house. They offer sampler flights consisting of four, five-ounce glasses of any beer on the menu (including the expensive ones.) I imagine the turnover is large and that there is always something new on-tap. But during my visit, my favorites were the Pere Jacques, Maduro, Imperial IPA and the best tasting Honest Stout I’ve had in quite a while. I could eat here every day and be happy. I could drink here every day and be happier still (and never bored!)
I came in for a late lunch and sat at the bar. It was a Friday, and the place was pretty quiet. As such, there were some workers tending the bar who were also busy cleaning the place up. So the service was a tad slow and not very individualized, but sitting at an actual table would probably clear that up in a heartbeat. But I still have to dock a few points, at least until my next visit, of which I hope there will be many.