Saturday, August 20, 2011

Our Trip to Chicago Food/Beer/Fun Thursday Recap

Part 4 of Chicago Food/Beer/Fun
Featuring Shedd Aquarium, Half Acre Brewing, Fountainhead, and Binny's Beverage Store!

As a child we always had a fish tank in our house. I loved watching them swim around and around, but also loved taking care of them by cleaning the tank and feeding them.  My home away from home was the local pet store just down the street.  Yes, I love fish!!   Knowing this crazy fact about myself will explain why I was dying to go to our next location.

After Wednesday's wasted walk to the Aquarium, we decided we would beat the afternoon rush and get there early.  I'm very glad we did because even with 20 people in line it still took about 15 minutes just to get into the place.   We opted for the mid-level Shedd pass which for $29 each gave us access to almost everything.   The freshwater exhibits allowed me to walk around and tell me fiancee the name of almost every fish, because they were fish I used to have in my tank at home.  We also had a chance to see the Caribbean Reef area and the  Amazon Rising’s flooded forest.  If that wasn't enough the Oceanarium’s Pacific Northwest coast gave us a chance to watch Beluga whales!   Our time spent at the aquarium was very fun and I'd highly recommend this experience!  Here are just a few of the 100 pictures I took!

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After the Aquarium, it was time to check out of our hotel.  We packed the car and headed north to Half Acre Beer Company.  We saved this stop for the end of our trip because I knew we would be purchasing some brews to bring home with us.  Half Acre makes one of the best session pale ales you'll find anywhere, Daisy Cutter.  This is not a place you are going to sit down and have a pint at because they only offer growler sales and canned beer sales.  They will allow you to sample whatever they have on tap at the growler station.  You can also buy all kinds of Half Acre memorabilia too.  When we arrived the gentleman working was friendly and knowledgeable and more than willing to tell us all about Half Acre.  He also let us talk a walk back to see where the beer is made.  If you head to the Chicago area this should be on your list to stop at to buy some beer, you won't be disappointed!

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While at Half Acre, we mentioned that we wanted to grab some food before hitting the road for Cleveland.  They highly suggested a restaurant called Fountainhead which was only 5 minutes away. (If you take the train you can take the Brown Line to Montrose and its only a 2min walk!) As I looked around I started to realize why we were told to come here.  There were 24 beers on tap, all craft beer, a huge bottle list, and an even bigger wine and drink list.   When we started to look over the menu and saw some really interesting choices that made us think of a Tremont Tap House/Greenhouse Tavern like menu.

To start we decided to split the roasted beet salad.  It came with roasted beets, mixed greens, shaved parmesean cheese, hazelnuts and a nice light vinaigrette.   While eating this my fiancee and I both reflected on how much we love beets.  We love the beet salad at Bar Cento and we loved this one too!
I went with the Duck Confit Mac and Cheese for my entree.  It came with 2 year aged smokey rauchbier white cheddar cheese, pulled duck confit, sundried tomatoes and green peas. I loved everything about this dish.  Every flavor in the dish worked to complement each other.  Rich savory duck, sweet sundried tomatoes played, and creamy smokey cheese all worked together to create great flavor.  The pasta itself was cooked perfectly and the spirals made it easy to get a little bit of everything in each bite.  The other thing I appreciated about this dish was the quantities of each ingredient.  They were well balanced and I never felt like I was running out of duck while eating.  For $15 this dish was a great value and we ended up bring home about 1/3 of the dish because I couldn't finish it all.
My fiancee ordered the 10oz sirloin steak, priced at $17,  that came with grilled asparagus, cauliflower/potato puree, and a cabernet sauvigon glaze.  By now you probably know that we order almost every meat product medium and I'm very picky about how its executed.  I'm happy to say that Fountainhead nailed the medium temperature perfectly. The meat had a wonderful sear on the outside and was perfectly medium pink and juicy on the inside. The flavor of the steak was mouthwatering and the grilled asparagus was also well cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper.  The potato puree was more potato than anything.  The cauliflower really didn't come out in it at all.  That being said, it was a fine tasting puree, and my fiancee was very happy with her meal.
I must say thank you to the guys from Half Acre for telling us about this place.  Out of all of the meals we ate in Chicago this would be the one that we'd go back for first.  The food was cooked properly and the flavors were all right on.  What also was very pleasing was the pricing of everything.  For $42 we got one salad large enough for two people, and two entrees.  Overall Fountainhead gets a 4.75/5 for food!

Drink wise the tap list was pretty impressive.  They had 24 taps that all were craft beer.  There really was something for everyone on tap.  In case you don't find something on tap you like, their bottle list is organized by syle which makes picking out a tasty brew very easy.  Since we had a long drive ahead of us, I had a 3Floyds Gorch Foch and a Half Acre Daisy Cutter.   Drink wise their selection is excellent, I give them a 4.75/5.
The next time we are in Chicago it would be hard not to go back and have dinner and drinks again at Fountainhead!
Fountainhead on Urbanspoon

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While sitting and finishing dinner we realized that if we hit the highway at this time of day, 5pm, we would just be sitting in traffic.  We decided to make one last stop at a place my friend swears by, Binny's Beverage Depot.   I sort of thought this would be a mini-mart or something, but when we pulled in my jaw hit the floor.  Binny's is the size of a Walmart and sells Beer, Wine and Liquor.   The beer selection was pretty amazing,   two full length aisles just full of craft beer bombers and 6 packs.  Then there is a huge fridge in the back full or more beer, then another section with 12 and 24 packs.  If you head to Chicago and have a car, just google this place and enjoy an amazing beer selection, many of which we cannot buy here in Ohio!!

Well that's it folks!  Four amazing days spent in the Windy City.  We had a lot of fun, some great food, and of course some amazing craft beer.  We already cannot wait to go back someday, and I hope my little recaps help you to have an amazing trip if you decide to go. Cheers!

1 comment:

CLEgal @ Why CLE? said...

I will eat anything with duck and cheese. Also, I hear you love fish.

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