Wild Onion Tied House has been open for business for only about a week. This new outpost of the original Wild Onion Brewery in Lake Barrington offers a menu that relies heavily upon smoke, and that's a good thing.
Here are three of the most outstanding smoked items.
Smoked nuts. Oh man, if you want a little something to nibble on with your beer, ask for a bowl of the smoked nuts. The smoke flavor penetrates the nuts -- a good variety of pecan, almonds and others – and gives them an extra bit of flavor. It seems like the slight heat of the smoking process might even render out some of the nut fat: these nuts were not even a little greasy. There are other very good bar snacks, like the smoked garbanzo beans, but the smoked nuts are what you really want.
Smoked trout salad showcases some lush hunks of lake fish, smoked and pulled, served with goat cheese, grilled pear, watermelon radish, and some random lettuce leaves, dressed with a smoked lemon vinaigrette. There's a lot going on in this dish. Salad, any salad, is usually (at least for me) kind of boring, but this smoked trout salad is not. I could see making a whole meal of this one.
Smoked Pastrami. Okay, this is what I was building up to. We got the smoked pastrami as a side; the only other way you can get pastrami is in the Ruben Panini. It was fantastic. So lush and sliced thin into beautiful marbled leaves of beef, tender but with tooth, with just a little smoke poking though. This is some of the best pastrami I can remember having, and as with super premium Wagyu beef, you'll be satisfied with just a small amount of this super lush meat.
Wild Onion Brewery supplies the beverages for this "tied house" (traditionally an inn or restaurant "tied" to a brewery), and we had some superb selections.
Hefty-Weiss is a Belgian pale ale, a Hefeweizen type brew. As the name implies, there's wheat in there, which adds a certain softness to the sip, but there are also flowery notes and just a little bit of the banana flavor for which this style of beer is known.
Misfit is an IPA, so it has a good bit of citrusy hops, and our server told us that this brew accounts for 70% of Wild Onion beer sales. It's popular. Misfit is a medium-weight brew, so you can sip just a glass or treat it as a session beer and drink it all evening. It has refreshing fruity notes – tangerine and orange – making it a suitable pairing with the pork and other smoked items.
Slam Dunkel is, as you might suspect, a dunkel weiss, a dark wheat beer that you probably want to have at the end of the meal. If you have it at the start, you run the risk of overwhelming the taste buds right out of the box. At the end of the meal, this slightly sweet beer is a lot like dessert, creamy and rich.
All beers are available in 4, 10 and 16 ounce pours, which makes it easy to make your own flights of several different brews.
Wild Onion Tied House is across the street from the Harlem Green Line station, in an old theater building designed by E. E. Roberts. The inside, of course, has been completely redone, with lots of wood, so it feels homey and comfortable. You'll immediately notice that they have not installed video monitors, a fact tht will be appreciated by some and no doubt bemoaned by others.
This is a potentially tough strip for a new bar/restaurant; the recently closed Connolly's Public House is right next store. However, with the new residential properties going up all along Lake Street, there will soon be hundreds of new people in the neighborhood who will likely find Wild Onion Tied House to be a suitable "corner bar."
Wild Onion Tied House
1111-1113 South Blvd
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