Friday 4th of June 2010 10:26:15 PM link
A hotel bar masquerading as The Publican Liteβ’...
The bar is on the ground floor, NE corner of State & Lake. Once inside, it's on the left before you hit the elevators. Swanky, posh, metrosexual type of place. A little bit overly polished and trying hard. I was drawn by the Lynchian description elsewhere online, but felt it was lacking somewhat in terms of atmosphere. The lighting was weird, the room was dim but we had a bright halogen spotlight on our table, illuminating the floating dust in the air. Ultramodern and sterile, with contrasting "midwestern" design touches like brown leather chairs, wooden menu holders, and deer head art on the wall.
Beer, let's focus. A good selection, although it doesn't seem designed to change or rotate seasonals. If you're looking for Surly Furious in the Loop (for $7), go here, or try Kasey's/Clark St. Ale House for a more laid back place. Strangely they had a couple contract brews from Atlanta on the menu "Numbers Ale" and Red Brick Ale" which they couldn't tell me where they were made. Those beers are a waste of 2 tap lines guys.
Food: Dinner entrees are in the mid 20s. We had small plates and a couple drinks, the bill was over $50. Ribs were decent, though there are many superior options in Chicago to the paltry 1/2 baby back slab here for $13. Parmesan fries were good, and a good accompaniment to beer selections. To their credit, there were a few nice bottles, like Sofie and Breakfast Stout. Overall though, it felt inauthentic, and not much of a destination for beer. Worth checking it out if you're seeing a show at the Chicago Theater or Siskel Center though, or staying downtown.
***June 2010: ***
For some reason, they dropped Metropolitan and other smaller craft beers, in favor of bigger ones from the BMC distro... They only brought Metro back after word got out via social media. Lame.
"When the Wit opened in 2009, bar managers stocked State & Lake's 16 taps with an impressive selection of microbrews, including Stone, Anderson Valley, Two Brothers and Metropolitan, a new hometown brand.
Then, in June, most of the craft beers from smaller distributors disappeared, replaced by 11 specialty brands carried by Chicago Beverage Systems LLC, a powerhouse distributor of Miller, Coors and other labels.
"We don't know exactly what went down, but we used to have beer there that was selling well and now we don't," Tracy Hurst, co-owner of Metropolitan Brewing, a microbrewery in Ravenswood, said at the time.
Metropolitan's Ms. Hurst was among the few to speak out. When her beer got the boot at the Wit, she posted the news on Metropolitan's Facebook page, charging that Chicago Beverage had "arranged" a contract with the Wit to carry the company's beers and was "offering $200 incentives to their (sales) reps to steal tap handles."
Ms. Hurst says she based her post on what a Windy City sales rep told her. It drew comments from friends and colleagues who spread the news on Twitter and on their personal blogs. One Metropolitan employee, writing on her own blog, called for boycotting Chicago Beverage Systems' beers and the State & Lake bar. "Keep going to these places," one Facebook post read. "Order a non-beer and tell their manager you'll not buy beer as long as they play the CBS game."
Mr. Doney denies the allegations and says the tap change at State & Lake was just business. "This happens all the time in Chicago, and small brewers lose accounts when someone else offers a deal," he says. "We had been targeting that account for a year-and-a-half. We spent a lot of time making presentations on how they could sell more beer, and I think they are happy with how much beer they are selling now."
Eric Adelman, director of purchasing at State & Lake, likewise says there was nothing underhanded about the deal, though he won't reveal the details. He says he switched beers because Chicago Beverage offered better terms. Mr. Adelman is always open to considering new beers, he adds: "We won't get rid of Chicago Beverage, but we might be able to throw in a few more craft beers."
In fact, Mr. Adelman says, Chicago Beverage initially bid for all 16 taps, but he told them he needed some "wiggle room" for beers from others. In August, Metropolitan's Krankshaft Kolsch beer reappeared on tap at State & Lake."
Selection: 4 |
Atmosphere: 3.5 |
Service: 2 |
Thursday 4th of March 2010 02:57:18 PM link
I was here twice in the last week. Located in the hip new Wit hotel, it is a good location for quality beer in this part of the loop.
This is definitely more of a restaurant than a bar and the vibe is impacted a bit by that. The bar itself is "J" shaped and sits bout 20. The tables are placed fairly close to the bar, so if it is at all crowded, as in the case of my visits, people standing with their friends who are sitting at the bar are constantly forced to shift position so servers and other patrons can get by.
The service I had the first night was outstanding. It was just fair the 2nd night. The will give samples so that is a plus.
Beer selection is solid. They had two tap offerings from 3Fs, 2 Brothers, Goose Island & Founders. In addition they had local favorites Daisy Cutter from Half Acre and the Dynamo Lager from Metro. Throw in some Left Hand, Alagash, Surly & Great Lakes and you have a nice list. The bottle selection is small but fairly solid. I did not see them serve any BMC products. The light beer they offer is from Abita.
The lounge on the 28th floor of the hotel is worth a stop. While a bit of a young & hipster hangout, it has a great terrace and wonderful views of the city. Beer selection is more mainstream than State & Lake but they did have Cane & Eble in bottles which is nice.
Selection: 4.25 |
Atmosphere: 3.75 |
Service: 4 |