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  • Hopleaf

    Post #1 - February 2nd, 2006, 5:27 pm
    Post #1 - February 2nd, 2006, 5:27 pm Post #1 - February 2nd, 2006, 5:27 pm
    I know this place has lost its original atmosphere due to the trend crowd, but...After seeing the Hop Leaf (Clark/Foster) on Check Please, my wife and I went to revisit it on Wednesday.
    Much to the staff's annoyance, so had a lot of other people.
    Once the Check Please surge dies down we'll be excited to go back.
    The beer is better than I remember (the stuff that comes in the hour-glass shaped glass is outstanding, but it's 9% alcohol so watch out).
    I had the Flemish Stew. It was outstanding when mixed with the mashed potatoes.
    My wife had the lentile tart. it was only ok, but I'm not that wild about lentiles.
    Hope I haven't violated some unwritten rule by writing about a popular place.
    C

    5148 N Clark St
    Chicago, IL 60640
    (773) 334-9851
  • Post #2 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:03 pm
    Post #2 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:03 pm Post #2 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:03 pm
    Paco's dad and I love Hopleaf. We find it to be very romantic, and we've spent the last few New Year's Eves there. When I saw it on Check Please I almost cried. However, we were there about three weeks ago (pre-Check Please) and couldn't find a seat. So, perhaps it had been discovered by the wide world much earlier.
  • Post #3 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm
    Post #3 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm Post #3 - February 2nd, 2006, 6:17 pm
    I love the Hopleaf and am lucky enough to live only couple blocks away. Therefore whenever we go, we go early to snag a seat. That said, we have to get there around 7 to beat the crowd. So yeah, over the years it has gotten increasingly busy and this will just compound the problem, but the mussels and the beer will draw me back no matter what.
  • Post #4 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:31 am
    Post #4 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:31 am Post #4 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:31 am
    I have been going to Hopleaf for a long time, it is one of my favorite beer bars in Chicago. I am not a big fan of their food, well they taste good but the portion is just too small. I usually go there around 11PM, and I still couldn't find anywhere to sit. I think most people on site are more into food than beers, so I will stop my reply here.
  • Post #5 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am
    Post #5 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am Post #5 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am
    Jay@HG wrote:I think most people on site are more into food than beers, so I will stop my reply here.


    I think there are a fair number of beer people on here, and I think it's safe to say that Hopleaf is among the best beer bars in the area. Others (excluding brewpubs) might include Quenchers, The Map Room, and the Yard House in Glenview. I'm sure I'm overlooking a few others.

    Hopleaf
    5148 N. Clark St.

    Quenchers Saloon
    2401 N. Western Ave.

    The Map Room
    1949 N. Hoyne Ave.

    Yard House
    1880 Tower Drive, Glenview
  • Post #6 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am
    Post #6 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am Post #6 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:59 am
    Jay@HG

    I'm with you.
    I'm more into the beers at Hop Leaf as well. I was actually on their web site tonight printing out their beer menu in order to start a check list. I can never remember what I've had or the names.
    I think I mentioned that I tried that one beer that comes in the hour-glass shaped glass with the little wooden stand on Wednesday (case in point, can't remember the name). It was outstanding. It tasted a lot like Fuller's ESB to me, maybe slightly lighter. But the alcohol content was something like 9%. I had two of those and I was pretty lit... Looking at the menu now and I think it's the Kwak.
    I believe that I also had the Liefmans Frambozenbier. It was like a carbonated raspberry cider. It was very drinkable. Not too sweet. The carbonation reminded me of pop rocks candy at first. I probably wouldn't drink it with food but it was good to start off the evening (probably great in the summer).
  • Post #7 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:08 am
    Post #7 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:08 am Post #7 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:08 am
    curry71 wrote:I think I mentioned that I tried that one beer that comes in the hour-glass shaped glass with the little wooden stand on Wednesday (case in point, can't remember the name). It was outstanding. It tasted a lot like Fuller's ESB to me, maybe slightly lighter. But the alcohol content was something like 9%. I had two of those and I was pretty lit... Looking at the menu now and I think it's the Kwak.


    Exactly right.
  • Post #8 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:31 am
    Post #8 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:31 am Post #8 - February 3rd, 2006, 1:31 am
    Thanks for the tips on other beer bars to try.
    I like The Map Room.
    I've driven by Quenchers but never been in. I'll look forward to trying it and Yard House.
  • Post #9 - February 3rd, 2006, 2:00 am
    Post #9 - February 3rd, 2006, 2:00 am Post #9 - February 3rd, 2006, 2:00 am
    I'd throw Jaks Tap (901 w. jackson) in the west loop out there as far as good beer selection goes. 40 beers on draft with a good mix in and out seasonally. Decent food too, not as good as Hopleaf, but good.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    www.hungrymag.com - All Things Tasty
  • Post #10 - February 3rd, 2006, 11:06 am
    Post #10 - February 3rd, 2006, 11:06 am Post #10 - February 3rd, 2006, 11:06 am
    I think I mentioned that I tried that one beer that comes in the hour-glass shaped glass with the little wooden stand on Wednesday (case in point, can't remember the name).


    That would be Kwak.
  • Post #11 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:47 pm
    Post #11 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:47 pm Post #11 - February 3rd, 2006, 12:47 pm
    You are right, that would be Kwak. You should try the Delirium Tremens next time, that is one of my favorite beers. They have them on tap that makes it even better. It is nice to know there are others whom also appreciate craft beers. It just makes me sick to see people downing those high life craps.

    Jak's Tap is also very nice, they have friendly service, nice beer selections and good food(expecially their pizza). I usually go there few times a week since I live really close to them. There is also one place I like point out, that would be Clark Ale House. They don't serve food there, so might have to bring your own when you go. They have a hand pull there, the usual selection is Bell's Two Hearted Ale but it changes from time to time.

    Have a good one.

    Jay
  • Post #12 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:27 pm
    Post #12 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:27 pm Post #12 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:27 pm
    For the beer end of things, Sheffield's is also great.

    3258 N. Sheffield Avenue
  • Post #13 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:31 pm
    Post #13 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:31 pm Post #13 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:31 pm
    Yes, the Delirium Tremens is very good. I'm also a fan of most of the Unibroe beers (Tres Pistoles, Fin du Monde, Don de Dieu [my favorite], etc.).
    Other than that, love the Trippel Karmeliet, Piraat, Maudite, Orval (brewed since 1071!) and many others.
  • Post #14 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:56 pm
    Post #14 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:56 pm Post #14 - February 3rd, 2006, 3:56 pm
    I like the St. Bernardus and the Geuze. Very different from one another but both are wonderful.
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #15 - February 3rd, 2006, 8:11 pm
    Post #15 - February 3rd, 2006, 8:11 pm Post #15 - February 3rd, 2006, 8:11 pm
    The Hop Leaf remains my favorite beer bar in town, and I love the food (as a light bar meal for two, mussels for one and a cheese plate with a few Belgian beers can't be beat). It's typically pretty crowded, and The Check Please effect will not help.

    I wouldn't call Chicago a great beer town, but we have some pretty good beer bars. Some alternatives to the Hop Leaf that I like:

    The Long Room (1612 W. Irving Park Rd) - Nice bar, laid back vibe. The owners and staff are pretty cool. They have a good selection of beers on tap (a mix of American micros, a few Belgians, and some imports) and a good variety in bottles. They also regularly rotate their selection (very important for a good beer bar). No food.

    Kuma's Corner (2900 W. Belmont Ave) - This is a fairly new place. I like the vibe here quite a bit. As far as I can tell it is run by a bunch of tall guys with shaved heads and long beards who really like heavy metal. Very friendly though. Beer-wise the highlight is that they have three different Three Floyds beers on tap at all times. They rotate at least one of the taps regularly. Most recently is was Alpha King, Robert the Bruce, and Black Sun Stout (which is really good). Their bottles are primarily American micros with a few Belgians and obscure imports thrown in. They also serve some good food. Their kobe beef sliders are excellent.

    Jake's Pub (2932 N. Clark) - This place will surprise you. From the outside it looks like your standard Lakeview corner bar that fills up with meatheads after 11:00. I can't guarantee no meatheads, but this is one of my favorite neighborhood bars in the city. They have a surprisingly good selection of Belgians along with a few other rarities. They also have a good jukebox. The service can be painfully slow though.

    Clark Street Ale House (742 N. Clark St) - The beer bar closest to downtown (other than maybe Jak's). They have an excellent variety of 20 or so microbrews on tap. Good liquor selection.

    Small Bar (2956 N Albany Ave and 2049 W. Division St) - I prefer the Logan Square location, but both have good beer and decent food.

    Edgewater Lounge (5600 N. Ashland Ave) - Small, divey place with some surprisingly good beer. They usually have a selection of at least three Rouge beers on tap along with a pretty decent variety of other taps and bottles. They also have above average bar food.

    Underbar (3243 N Western Ave) - If you need a really good beer at 3:30 in the morning, this is your spot. Only late night beer bar I can think of. Gets really crowded after 2:00. The Blue Light next door is a fun spot, but it is not a beer bar unless your beer of choice is Iron City from an aluminum bottle (which isn't bad).

    Resi's Bierstube (2034 W. Irving Park Rd) and Laschet's (2119 W Irving Park Rd) - A discussion of Chicago beer bars would not be complete without these two German spots. I generally prefer the beer at Resi's and the food at Laschet's, but it's hard to go too wrong with the food or beer at either place.
  • Post #16 - February 3rd, 2006, 10:11 pm
    Post #16 - February 3rd, 2006, 10:11 pm Post #16 - February 3rd, 2006, 10:11 pm
    Three more to add to your list, Giallo. Somehow, you managed to miss all my favorite beer bars. :)

    Quencher's (2401 N. Western)
    The Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne)
    The Village Tap (2055 W. Rosco)

    The Map Room used to be my favorite go-to for beer, but it's gotten a bit crowded and obnoxious in the last few years. Quencher's is my place these days.

    If you want to talk local breweries and are willing to head a little outside Chicago proper

    Goose Island Brewery (1800 N. Clybourn, Chicago, IL)
    Flossmoor Station (Flossmoor Rd and Sterling, Flossmoor, IL)
    Three Floyd's Brewpub (9750 Indiana Parkway, Munster, IN)

    All have fantastic beers and great food. Three Floyd's is my second favorite brewery in the US (behind Bell's). Flossmoor Station is my favorite brewer in Illinois.
  • Post #17 - February 5th, 2006, 5:20 pm
    Post #17 - February 5th, 2006, 5:20 pm Post #17 - February 5th, 2006, 5:20 pm
    Six of us went to Hop Leaf last night and other than a packed house, noticed no drop in quality from their check please appearance.
    I don't have much to add from previous posts other than some comments on different choices.
    The mussels for two were plentiful, with an excellent sauce at the bottom of the pot. The liege was a refreshingly different kind of salad, I'd never tried anything like it before. My favorite was the scotch egg. It's a soft boiled egg wrapped in a garlic sausage and deep fried accompanied by some excellent mashed potatoes. Great tasting sausage and the whole thing wasn't the least bit greasy. The egg was perfectly cooked with a soft runny yolk. That couldn't be easy considering the deep frying. I'm ready to go back for another today.
    Another plus was no kids allowed, I wish some other bar/restaurants would follow their lead.
  • Post #18 - February 5th, 2006, 5:47 pm
    Post #18 - February 5th, 2006, 5:47 pm Post #18 - February 5th, 2006, 5:47 pm
    Binko wrote:Three more to add to your list, Giallo. Somehow, you managed to miss all my favorite beer bars. :)

    Quencher's (2401 N. Western)
    The Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne)
    The Village Tap (2055 W. Rosco)

    The Map Room used to be my favorite go-to for beer, but it's gotten a bit crowded and obnoxious in the last few years. Quencher's is my place these days.

    If you want to talk local breweries and are willing to head a little outside Chicago proper

    Goose Island Brewery (1800 N. Clybourn, Chicago, IL)
    Flossmoor Station (Flossmoor Rd and Sterling, Flossmoor, IL)
    Three Floyd's Brewpub (9750 Indiana Parkway, Munster, IN)

    All have fantastic beers and great food. Three Floyd's is my second favorite brewery in the US (behind Bell's). Flossmoor Station is my favorite brewer in Illinois.


    All those are great spots. We discovered the Three Floyds Brewpub a few months ago, and it was fantastic. Not only did they have a wide variety of their beer there not to be found elsewhere, but the food was really good. Looking forward to going back soon.
  • Post #19 - February 6th, 2006, 12:56 am
    Post #19 - February 6th, 2006, 12:56 am Post #19 - February 6th, 2006, 12:56 am
    Giallo wrote:The Long Room (1612 W. Irving Park Rd) - Nice bar, laid back vibe. The owners and staff are pretty cool. They have a good selection of beers on tap (a mix of American micros, a few Belgians, and some imports) and a good variety in bottles. They also regularly rotate their selection (very important for a good beer bar). No food.

    Giallo, do you know if Philip still tends bar there at all? Back when I lived closer, a couple of years ago, the Long Room was a regular Friday night stop for me, and I really appreciated his ability to steer me to the better beers they offered -- whether we just had similar taste or he learned mine that well I can't really say, but he's one of the very few people I've ever trusted enough to just say "a glass of whatever's new and good."
  • Post #20 - February 6th, 2006, 5:39 pm
    Post #20 - February 6th, 2006, 5:39 pm Post #20 - February 6th, 2006, 5:39 pm
    Bob S. wrote:
    Giallo wrote:The Long Room (1612 W. Irving Park Rd) - Nice bar, laid back vibe. The owners and staff are pretty cool. They have a good selection of beers on tap (a mix of American micros, a few Belgians, and some imports) and a good variety in bottles. They also regularly rotate their selection (very important for a good beer bar). No food.

    Giallo, do you know if Philip still tends bar there at all? Back when I lived closer, a couple of years ago, the Long Room was a regular Friday night stop for me, and I really appreciated his ability to steer me to the better beers they offered -- whether we just had similar taste or he learned mine that well I can't really say, but he's one of the very few people I've ever trusted enough to just say "a glass of whatever's new and good."


    Just asked a friend who tends bar there. She said Philip recently left. She wasn't sure to where.
  • Post #21 - February 6th, 2006, 5:48 pm
    Post #21 - February 6th, 2006, 5:48 pm Post #21 - February 6th, 2006, 5:48 pm
    Giallo wrote:Just asked a friend who tends bar there. She said Philip recently left. She wasn't sure to where.

    Ah, thanks for checking. My bad for not stopping by for nearly two years, I guess.
  • Post #22 - February 6th, 2006, 6:17 pm
    Post #22 - February 6th, 2006, 6:17 pm Post #22 - February 6th, 2006, 6:17 pm
    I stepped in Edgewater Lounge after a few beers last time. I do remember it was pretty lay back and had a friendly waitress.

    Giallo - Do you know how many beers they have on tap, expecially Rogue?


    Giallo wrote:The Hop Leaf remains my favorite beer bar in town, and I love the food (as a light bar meal for two, mussels for one and a cheese plate with a few Belgian beers can't be beat). It's typically pretty crowded, and The Check Please effect will not help.

    I wouldn't call Chicago a great beer town, but we have some pretty good beer bars. Some alternatives to the Hop Leaf that I like:

    The Long Room (1612 W. Irving Park Rd) - Nice bar, laid back vibe. The owners and staff are pretty cool. They have a good selection of beers on tap (a mix of American micros, a few Belgians, and some imports) and a good variety in bottles. They also regularly rotate their selection (very important for a good beer bar). No food.

    Kuma's Corner (2900 W. Belmont Ave) - This is a fairly new place. I like the vibe here quite a bit. As far as I can tell it is run by a bunch of tall guys with shaved heads and long beards who really like heavy metal. Very friendly though. Beer-wise the highlight is that they have three different Three Floyds beers on tap at all times. They rotate at least one of the taps regularly. Most recently is was Alpha King, Robert the Bruce, and Black Sun Stout (which is really good). Their bottles are primarily American micros with a few Belgians and obscure imports thrown in. They also serve some good food. Their kobe beef sliders are excellent.

    Jake's Pub (2932 N. Clark) - This place will surprise you. From the outside it looks like your standard Lakeview corner bar that fills up with meatheads after 11:00. I can't guarantee no meatheads, but this is one of my favorite neighborhood bars in the city. They have a surprisingly good selection of Belgians along with a few other rarities. They also have a good jukebox. The service can be painfully slow though.

    Clark Street Ale House (742 N. Clark St) - The beer bar closest to downtown (other than maybe Jak's). They have an excellent variety of 20 or so microbrews on tap. Good liquor selection.

    Small Bar (2956 N Albany Ave and 2049 W. Division St) - I prefer the Logan Square location, but both have good beer and decent food.

    Edgewater Lounge (5600 N. Ashland Ave) - Small, divey place with some surprisingly good beer. They usually have a selection of at least three Rouge beers on tap along with a pretty decent variety of other taps and bottles. They also have above average bar food.

    Underbar (3243 N Western Ave) - If you need a really good beer at 3:30 in the morning, this is your spot. Only late night beer bar I can think of. Gets really crowded after 2:00. The Blue Light next door is a fun spot, but it is not a beer bar unless your beer of choice is Iron City from an aluminum bottle (which isn't bad).

    Resi's Bierstube (2034 W. Irving Park Rd) and Laschet's (2119 W Irving Park Rd) - A discussion of Chicago beer bars would not be complete without these two German spots. I generally prefer the beer at Resi's and the food at Laschet's, but it's hard to go too wrong with the food or beer at either place.
  • Post #23 - February 7th, 2006, 10:26 pm
    Post #23 - February 7th, 2006, 10:26 pm Post #23 - February 7th, 2006, 10:26 pm
    While we're on the subject of good beer bars, Delilah's deserves a mention. They have a selection to rival Hopleaf and it is a very laid back and diverse crowd. They always have interesting specials, as well. Sorry, no food!

    Delilah's
    2771 N. Lincoln

    http://www.delilahschicago.com/
  • Post #24 - February 10th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Post #24 - February 10th, 2006, 10:44 am Post #24 - February 10th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Jay@HG wrote:I stepped in Edgewater Lounge after a few beers last time. I do remember it was pretty lay back and had a friendly waitress.

    Giallo - Do you know how many beers they have on tap, expecially Rogue?


    They may have 10 or so beers on tap. I know they usually have at least three Rouge beers on tap. They always have Dead Guy Ale, but the other two Rouge taps rotate pretty frequently in my experience.
  • Post #25 - February 11th, 2006, 11:50 am
    Post #25 - February 11th, 2006, 11:50 am Post #25 - February 11th, 2006, 11:50 am
    I am a big fan of the Saison Dupont. It's a Belgian farmhousen ale and it it's consistently good. They have a seasonal beer call Erpe which is also very good. The last time I was there, I tried the $35 beer whose name escapes me. It was advertised as the real champagne of bottled beers. As the alcohol content was aroud, 13 percent, it was more like a bottle of wine. While I didn't love it as a beer, it was well woth trying.
  • Post #26 - February 12th, 2006, 12:04 pm
    Post #26 - February 12th, 2006, 12:04 pm Post #26 - February 12th, 2006, 12:04 pm
    After stopping by The Cheese Stands Alone yesterday, I backtracked and stopped in Hopleaf for <ahem> a beer or two. I arrived close after its opening time, 3:00 p.m. At that time, the front room was already about half-full. The back dining room was not open because the kitchen does not open until 5:00 p.m. Most people there at the time were either alone or in small groups of two, chatting quietly over a beer or reading. This being my first time at Hopleaf, I was immediately reminded of The Map Room, I place I've been to many, many times over many years (less so in recent years). Hopleaf's decor is better kept than the Map Room's, but, like the Map Room, it is definitively a bar before anything else.

    I loved all the beer I consumed - between my companion and I, we had the Three Floyds Alpha King, Maudite, Leifman Frambozenbier (a raspberry beer), Leffe Blonde, and a Milk Stout. My favorite was the Leffe Blonde, which had an almost-cakey, creamy lemony taste. The bartender was knowledgeable about their selections and gave my companion a mini-tasting of several kinds of various dark beer so that she could at least intelligently make a selection from their vast menu.

    Right after 5:00 p.m., the place loaded up with larger groups (3-6 people) of what distinctly looked to be mostly suburban types. These people generally wanted to eat and filled up the dining room quickly. Given the murmurs I heard from some of the people who had to wait for a table in the somewhat smokey bar, they seemed a little disconcerted by the crowds and that they'd have to stand with their beer. At this time, more people demanded wine by the glass as well. (I didn't bother checking out their wine selection, as I believed that this was the place to stick with beer.)

    By 5:30 p.m., they were slammed. While service was still friendly, at this point, out of necessity, it became efficient. A regular asked the bartender, "what gives" as to the crowds? She responded that they were still feeling the "Check Please Effect." (Apparently, this is a mainstream concept now.)

    All in all, the crowds won't deter me from going back, I would just time my visit. If I wanted to eat, I would wait until later in the evening, when these early dining crowds shuffled out. And if, like yesterday, I just wanted a beer, then I would be sure to arrive close to their opening time, or at least, before 5 p.m.
  • Post #27 - February 12th, 2006, 12:11 pm
    Post #27 - February 12th, 2006, 12:11 pm Post #27 - February 12th, 2006, 12:11 pm
    aschie30 wrote:(I didn't bother checking out their wine selection, as I believed that this was the place to stick with beer.)


    While Hopleaf is a beer destination, they do have a very good wine list: a somewhat ecclectic selection of widely varied, moderately-priced, mostly old-world wines. On occasion, I find that their huge portion of mussles and frites pair nicely with different whites.

    Wine list in pdf format: http://www.hopleaf.com/wine_menu.pdf

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #28 - February 12th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    Post #28 - February 12th, 2006, 12:30 pm Post #28 - February 12th, 2006, 12:30 pm
    Just curious what "mostly suburban types" look like (this is not a slam, just honestly curious how one identifies urban vs. suburban so easily). I'm guessing they weren't all wearing "I live in Schaumburg and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" or similar to announce their residential location. Short of watching them park and examining their city/village stickers how exactly is this done?
    Objects in mirror appear to be losing.
  • Post #29 - February 12th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    Post #29 - February 12th, 2006, 12:39 pm Post #29 - February 12th, 2006, 12:39 pm
    Kman wrote:Just curious what "mostly suburban types" look like


    Sort of like pornography - you know it when you see it. :)
  • Post #30 - February 12th, 2006, 1:03 pm
    Post #30 - February 12th, 2006, 1:03 pm Post #30 - February 12th, 2006, 1:03 pm
    aschie30 wrote: If I wanted to eat, I would wait until later in the evening, when these early dining crowds shuffled out.


    I tried to go to eat around 10:15 last night - the front bar was SRO, and the wait for tables in the dining room was still 1/2 hour. Damn Check Please effect.

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