Sunday, May 2, 2010


Hopleaf is a bar/restaurant we have been wanting to try for awhile. Actually, it calls itself a tavern. It's a bit off the beaten path for us - in the Andersonville neighborhood - but we finally made it up there this weekend. As I've mentioned before, Chicago is a serious beer drinker's town and this is a serious beer drinker's place.

99 bottles of beer on the wall! Actually, there's probably more than 99. They have about 30 beers on tap, and a bottled beer menu that's 15 pages long! They specialize in Belgian beers, which honestly I don't know a whole lot about, but they have plenty of beers from the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. What's nice about their beer list is that they offer up explanations of where each beer came from, its alcohol content, and its flavors. This is extremely helpful since I had never heard of most of what they were serving...and because some beers can reach up to 18% or 20% alcohol. Yikes!

Our first round: mine on the left is an Urthel Saissonaire (Belgian) and Peter's is a Dupont Avec Les Bon Voeux (also Belgian).

What goes with Belgian beer? Mussels! Oh, how I love these tasty little bivalves. They serve them with fries, naturally. And you have two choices - whatever the special of the day is, or Belgian style (steamed in white ale with shallots, celery, thyme, and bayleaf). The special of the day was Spanish style with chorizo, and we went with that.

Kind of hard to see the mussels under that big piece of other picture is a bit dark.

They were really tasty. The fries were perfection, and the mussels were nice and small in a spicy broth. I hate when they're humongous.

All in all, Hopleaf was great. This word kind of makes me cringe, but I can't think of a better way to describe it so I'll use it anyway - it was very chill. There was music, but not too loud. A couple people were reading books or doing crosswords, and on the flip side there were a couple rowdy groups. And this sounds kind of silly, but there was plenty of sunlight in the bar which was nice because it's not like you're entering a dark room when it's still really beautiful outside. I don't know when we'll be back since it's not that close to us, but hopefully it's sooner rather than later.

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