Bar Eats: Visit Revolution Brewing for the Beer, But Stay for Dinner

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[Photograph: Josh Conley]

I remember visiting Revolution Brewing shortly after it opened just over three years ago and marveling at how far micro-cum-craft breweries had come. It's fitting that "evolution" is part of the name, because this place is quite a few steps removed from the industrial park/cement garage/questionable legality days of brewery visits.

Revolution is absolutely beautiful inside. It's a big space, but the exposed brick, fireplace, and reclaimed wood give it a very warm, comfortable feel. And then there's the swanky light fixtures. The unique central bar, with its four giant logo fists holding it up, is an elegant centerpiece. If just one person lived there, this place would be featured on MTV Cribs (they still make that, right?). Dear Mr. Josh Deth, I hereby formally request to be said resident. Hopefully, that includes meals as well.

Somewhere between potato pancakes and samosas, the sweet potato cakes ($6) come out firing with lots of ginger, garlic, and curry spices coming through. The red pepper cream is a nice, semi-fiery little counterpart. Next time I would order them well done to add a bit more crunch, but the flavors are big and bold.

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The smelt and fried lemon ($8) is good, but a little uneven. The cornmeal batter is a little thick for the fish, but it has a nice, subtle sweetness to it. Though we were told the fried lemon was a garnish, I risked it anyway, for science's sake. And... it tastes like a fried lemon. Cute, but it does nothing to address the lack of acidity elephant in the bar room. The fish is also a tad under-salted, but it gets a huge boost from the excellent sriracha-lemon aioli.

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The roasted bone marrow ($14) is a plate of intimidating beauty. I've heard it referred to as meat butter, which isn't too far off. Rich and fatty, the warm, semi-gelatinous goo spreads easily over the provided bread vessels. This also looks a little less Neanderthal-y than sucking it directly out of the halved bones. The pile comes handsomely adorned with frisee, excellent pickled cherries, and radishes in a light maple vinaigrette.

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If tofu had a hot date tonight, it would wear the pecan crust and full accoutrements of the pecan-crusted tofu ($16) entrée. Cut into triangles, crusted and fried, the tofu has flavor feet to stand on. Then the baby carrots, rainbow chard, peas, and carrot chips all get a crack at the palette. But it's the oyster mushrooms—rich, savory, and earthy—that really anchor the dish. The truffle mustard aioli, made with Veganaise, however, attempts to bring some sweetness in that is unwelcome and best left on the side.

Of course I'd be remiss not to talk about the beer. In just over three years, Revolution has arguably established itself as the brewery to which all others in town are compared. Head brewer Jim Cibak did stints at 3 Floyds, Goose Island, and Firestone Walker, and they make upwards of fifty brews a year. There is always something new to try, or just stick to the old faithfuls, like the Anti-Hero IPA. And if you're still longing for the cement garage vibe, last year they opened up a separate bottling facility/tap room, complete with cool lighting fixtures.

Revolution Brewing

2323 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)
773-227-2739
revbrew.com

Josh Conley is single-handedly trying to re-introduce the verb beget into the everyday lexicon. He traveled to Easter Island one Christmas out of sheer irony. He excises a hefty syntax, and shamelessly promotes the color orange. His wife begat him two small children that he regularly belittles HERE.

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