Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For beer lovers: Barley House in Algonquin

During my undergraduate years in central Illinois, I thought trying to complete a 110-beer "World Tour" at a local bar and grill was challenge enough.

I found out Tuesday night that I was dead wrong.

Anyone with an eclectic taste in beer – or others willing to try new brews at a cheap price by Chicago standards – may find home in one of the many bar stools at Barley House in Algonquin. That's because it offers nearly 250 different beers spanning the globe.

Barley House, 1520 S. Randall Rd., was recently opened this month by local restaurateurs in place of the former Claddagh Irish Pub. After some remodeling and the addition of a hefty drink menu (more like a map), patrons seem pleased as they sip their cocktails and brews next to a fireplace or flat-screen TV.

At Barley House, rarities and new choices are abundant, as well as the drink specials for January and February. We stopped by on a Tuesday, when all micro pints (sans "Delirium") were $3 – a repeating discount on Thursdays. There's also a "beer nerd" club, where members receive 25 percent off beer purchases on Wednesdays.

Aside from the mind-boggling amount of drafts, bottles, hard ciders and wines, Barley House vibes a cozy, upscale atmosphere. They certainly don't serve most of the typical bar fare, but instead a large variety of food of a finer note. Appetizers range from coconut onion rings to steamed oysters, while entrees feature "The Best Chicken Sandwich Ever" to filet mignon.

And every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., diners can eat all they can of salad, soup and artisan bread for $7.50. On Mondays, the "Flip for your Food" special is as simple as it sounds. Your server returns the check with a coin, you pick a side and he or she flips once for every entree on your order. If you're lucky, you'll get half-off every entree every time you're right.

But despite all the good deals, I don't think we'll be returning to Barley House for the food. Our choices – an Ahi steak sandwich and a seafood stew – were fancy and fun but not entirely satisfying, taste-wise. But the great service and tasty beers made up for that tiny glitch, ten-fold. For that, we'll be sure to stop by again soon.


That Girl said...

I'm not really a beer drinker, but I enjoy a good hard cider -- so it's cool to know there's a good option out there.

Anonymous said...

The service and food are amazing. This place is worth giving a try!