After years of anticipation, One Lake Brewing, opened on June 4 and has successfully navigated its first dozen days in business. Located on the southwest corner of Austin Boulevard and Lake Street, the brewery is bringing an array of community members out to experience what the establishment has to offer.
One Lake Brewing is housed in the former First National Bank of Oak Park, built in 1920, and the finished gut-rehab pays special attention to the historic aspects of the unique building. Original dentil molding and large historical photos mingle with modern touches like luxe banquette seating and reclaimed wood tables.
As expected, customers flocked to the well-appointed brewery as soon as the doors opened. The pace has been swift for the young restaurant, with the rooftop dining area proving to be especially popular among patrons.
"Even with three levels of dining, we had people waiting well over an hour for an outdoor table during that first weekend," said One Lake Brewing manager Joe Yates. "But we've made some adjustments and things are running much more smoothly now."
Adjustments included making the coveted rooftop tables available on a first-come first-serve basis, while taking reservations for the two indoor dining rooms via the One Lake Brewing website.
Behind the bar, One Lake's staff pour seven house-brewed beers and several guest taps including one from fellow Oak Park brewery Kinslahger. One Lake's offerings range from a light cream ale to a dark milk stout and have lower ABV (alcohol by volume) than many beers; the Oscar Milde, an English Dark Mild, comes in at a mere 3.3 percent ABV.
Kristen Alfonsi, co-owner of One Lake Brewing, notes most patrons of the family-friendly establishment appreciate the lower alcohol content of One Lake beers, but admits some guests are inquiring about higher ABV options. She was quick to point out these seven beers will rotate as One Lake brewer, Shawn Stevens, begins releasing new batches of beer.
According to Alfonsi, One Lake beers will shift and change based on supply and demand. Hopbrite, an American pale ale, has proven to be a popular offering during One Lake's opening week.
Supply is already running low, but Stevens has another American pale ale on deck to replace it. Patrons can expect to see a wide variety of beers and options with more alcohol by volume as the menu rotates and expands. Stevens also intends to bring in more cider and sour options via One Lake's guest taps in the coming months.
Sipping a beer at One Lake affords customers the opportunity to explore their thoughtful menu. A former sous-chef at the bygone Marion Street Cheese Market, Nick Stewart, is head chef at One Lake Brewing. In addition to bringing a robust culinary skill set to the One Lake kitchen, Stewart is a trained pastry chef and will not shy away from serving dessert at the young brewery.
"We've given our kitchen staff wings," said Alfonsi, "and this is the first time our chef has taken full ownership of a kitchen."
Stewart is passionate about locally sourcing ingredients for this seasonal menu, which offers a thoughtful combination of elevated bar fare, complete entrees and composed desserts. Patrons should expect the menu to rotate quarterly and Stewart and his staff plan to introduce nightly specials and a full brunch menu in the near future.
On the current menu, caramelized cheesy cauliflower dip is proving to be popular among guests while the One Lake burger, topped with tomato jam, arugula, butterkase, and fried pickled onions is also getting positive feedback from diners.
Dessert is not to be missed at One Lake Brewing; save room for the decadent chocolate pudding with homemade marshmallows and shortbread cookies.
"This project has taken so long that we are thrilled to finally be a part of the neighborhood," said Alfonsi. "We are grateful for all the community support and can't wait to see where One Lake takes us."
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