Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bangers & Lace

Every once in a while a spontaneous decision to walk into a bar with outdoor seating to have a beer and snack is a welcome change to regularly planned meals. The summer heat around Chicago makes al fresco dining at night a treat and preferred to sitting inside air conditioned apartments. As Erica and I walked home from work we passed Time Out Chicago's 2011 Best New Bar with patio seating calling our names. Our intention was a beer before home as the sun set - we stayed for a few rounds of drinks and food. There's been plenty of appropriate praise for B&L. The layout and decor is both neighborhood bar and classy destination. The style is "Midwestern lodge" meets British/European beer parlor. I love the long wooden bar with an overhead chalkboard listing the beer selections. The taps are all nondescript wooded handles fixed into a brick wall. Cool. In case you didn't know “Bangers” is the British term for sausage, & "lace" stand for Brussels lace, the intricate veil of beer foam that clings to the side of the glass as it is consumed, indicating a well-crafted beer and a clean glass. B&L offers 32 draft beers from around the world and a variety of sausage sandwiches and Dogs.

Besides the cool decor, great outdoor seating and impressive beer list - Bangers has a simple but interesting menu. We decided to skip the starters (think onion rings, pretzel, fries, corn on the cob, deviled eggs, etc) order two encased meat options. I selected the buffalo sandwich (pictured above: buffalo sausage, watermelon, cucumber, goat cheese on a croissant) and Erica ordered the slaw dog - cheese, sweet and spicy slaw, garlic aioli on a poppy bun.

I really liked my buffalo sausage sandwich and would order it again in a heartbeat. BBQ buffalo was delicious and I thought the watermelon/cucumber combination was inventive and fresh. The goat cheese was a little strong for my taste but not seriously so. Throw all those flavors on the best French pastry and you have a winning combination. I tried the dog and liked it more than I figured since I'm not a huge slaw guy. It's quite rich with the aioli and pimenton cheese, but there's plenty of flavors to go around. Next time I'll have to try their Chicago style. 

Since we ended up staying for a full meal instead of just a drink, we ordered round two consisting of their seasonal salad and truffled grilled cheese. If the slaw dog had rich flavors then there's no description for the grilled cheese. The Irish white cheddar, taleggio and raclette are enough rich cheeses to last a month. There was too much bread to cheese ratio for my liking but everything went down smoothly after a quick dunk in the provided side of gazpacho. 

However, the grilled cheese was no match for the seasonal salad. It was a simple salad that we easily could replicate at home - greens, onion, corn, avocado, goat cheese and dressing. But it was well prepared, large, and very delicious. It's not nutritionally accurate, but eating a bowl of greens next to sausages and grilled cheese seems to raise the health level one notch. since I challenge we could make that salad at home I feel that we should since it was a great combination of fresh summer vegetables balanced with traditional greens and dressing.

I'm in no position to judge the best new bar of 2011 but I am thrilled to have Bangers & Lace a few short blocks from my apartment. Beer lovers across the city will enjoy the wide selection and knowledgeable servers in a fun and unique environment (especially outside in weather like this). The food surprised me for the better and I applaud the simplicity of designing a menu focused on two items Chicagoans love dearly - Beer and Dogs/Sausages. I look forward to many more nights and snacks at B&L and may have found the new go-to close to home. 

Bangers & Lace on Urbanspoon

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