Before the CHIRP event, Jess and I decided to get dinner and a drink in the neighborhood. We’d never been to Haymarket Pub and Brewing so we went to check it out. Haymarket brews their own beer and makes their own food. We decided to split two things: Grilled Salad and Mussels.
The grilled salad had chopped greens, red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, grilled asparagus, croutons and grilled shrimp (or chicken, if you prefer). On the side we got the spicy-peanut vinaigrette. I thought the salad was ok. Mostly raw vegetables, with not a ton of the grilled asparagus or shrimp.
The mussels were sauteed in Haymarket’s Belgian ale and mussel broth with onion, garlic, chili, celery, bay leaf and lemon. I liked the mussels better than the salad. My only complaint with them is that they didn’t give us a spoon to scoop them out or to get any of the broth out, so we just picked them out with our fingers.
For beer, Jess started out with the 7GA I.P.A (ABV: 6.8): This “wet hop” IPA is brewed with locally grown chinook and centennial hops from Oak Park! Grown by Gary, director of Seven Generations Ahead. Super fruity and aromatic, wet hopping, or using hops fresh off the vine that have not been dried, adds a unique aroma to the brew. I got the MoJo Belgian Style Abbey Dubbel (ABV: 7.5): This strong dark Belgian ale is fermented with Authentic Trappist yeast, dark candy syrup, raisins and molasses! Hints of chocolate, ripe fruit, plum and candy jump out of the glass! Jess and I both really liked these beers. Mine was dark, but not heavy. It reminded me of Eugene, a beer I have enjoyed many times at Revolution Brewing.
As for the feel of the place, it’s a lot different than I was expecting. Jess and I love and go to Revolution Brewing a lot, so it’s hard not to compare it to Haymarket. Haymarket is bigger. It has a front bar and dining area, then you walk past the brewing area and into a back dining area and a back bar. It’s a lot brighter in Haymarket. Revolution Brewing seems to have more design elements and more of an eye for detail. The bar is gorgeous, the lights are unique and innovative, the bar and seating are custom to the space.
Haymarket has a lot of TVs. A lot. And with those TVs come a lot of dudes. I counted 10 women in our back dining room and 40 men. If you’re a girl looking for a sporty guy, come here. Also, I’m not one of those people who hates every bar with a lot of TVs. I think they have their time and place. I like to watch sports and I like to have a place to do it. I just wasn’t expecting it at Haymarket. That said, this would be a great place to come to watch the game and drink actual good beer and not Crappy Beer Light.
The other thing about Revolution is that the food is fantastic. I can only think of one thing I’ve ever ordered there that I didn’t really enjoy and that is over the course of many, many visits. The food we tried at Haymarket was just ok. Mussels were better than the salad. Maybe just don’t order salads there. Who knows. I don’t think the restaurant should offer salads (or anything) if they’re not going to do them great.
For “dessert” we each tried the Clare’s Right Hook Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine (ABV: 12.5): This huge, hoppy and alcoholic brew was aged for 3 months in 8 year old Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels. Caramel, vanilla, coconut and lots of bourbon character. Lucky for us, we both ordered the smallest available. I think it was 8 ounces? I remember the beer was available in 3 sizes, something like 8 oz, 12 oz and 21 oz? Not sure, but I thought this was cool so you could get a sampling or a taste if you wanted. As for the Clare’s Right Hook? This was very tasty, but very boozy. I don’t think I could have finished more than the smallest size.
Jess and I used to work together at FeedBurner in the West Loop years ago. Back then you could go to some high-end restaurants like Blackbird and Avec (who can afford that on startup wages!?) or you could go to some really low-end places like White Hen and the Ogilvie Food Court. There wasn’t too much in the middle. Since that time, it seems like the West Loop has really exploded and there’s all kinds of stuff opening over there constantly. Since the FeedBurner ratio was at least 4:1 men to women, I’m sure we’d have been right at home here at Haymarket. Also, the guys we worked with weren’t the most sporty ever, but they did love their soccer and some football and baseball. I’m sure we would have put in a lot of time at Haymarket had it been there back in the day.