LTH Home

Hopleaf

Hopleaf
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
    Page 4 of 6
  • Post #91 - March 7th, 2008, 2:46 pm
    Post #91 - March 7th, 2008, 2:46 pm Post #91 - March 7th, 2008, 2:46 pm
    Hopleaf named one of America's best beer bars by Forbes Traveler.
  • Post #92 - March 7th, 2008, 3:23 pm
    Post #92 - March 7th, 2008, 3:23 pm Post #92 - March 7th, 2008, 3:23 pm
    jcclark33 wrote:One half of the hate equation was solved by the smoking ban. The other half of the hate equation is the service at the bar. I know these guys are busy. It's obvious, and good for the business, but how about a simple "Thank You" once in a while? Why do I have to feel like it is a privilege to have my beer order taken while sitting at the bar? (This criticism is leveled largely at the guys who work behind the bar, who show absolutely no joy in doing their jobs. There is one girl who often tends the bar and is quite amiable.)


    Welcome to the forum. You hit the nail right on the head. I love this place but it's like pulling teeth to get a beer here. If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll wait three deep just for the opportunity to order from a bartender that can care less about serving you.

    I was there for a friend's b-day party and was waiting for a drink more often than being social. We finally got so fed up that we left and went down the street. Not the same beer but at this point, we didn't care. I guess this is just one of my pet peeves - "I really want to give you my hard-earned money for one of your delicious beers but I can't get your attention at the bar and you really don't seem to care." I'm too old and there are too many options for this to be acceptable for me.

    Unfortunately for me, this is another place that has been "blacklisted" on the weekends. When I go, it has to be a weeknight - which rarely happens as I don't live that close.
  • Post #93 - March 28th, 2008, 7:47 am
    Post #93 - March 28th, 2008, 7:47 am Post #93 - March 28th, 2008, 7:47 am
    My wife and I became parents about five weeks ago and are hosting my visiting sister for the week. She has graciously offered to babysit for a couple hours tonight. We were thinking about mussels and steak frites. I am fullly aware how extraordinarily crowded Hopleaf can be. But if we arrived "early," say at 5:30pm, how long do you think we would have to wait to get a table? 15 minutes is fine, 45 is probably not.

    Thanks for the input. Have a great weekend!

    Eric
  • Post #94 - March 28th, 2008, 7:57 am
    Post #94 - March 28th, 2008, 7:57 am Post #94 - March 28th, 2008, 7:57 am
    ews wrote:My wife and I became parents about five weeks ago and are hosting my visiting sister for the week. She has graciously offered to babysit for a couple hours tonight. We were thinking about mussels and steak frites. I am fullly aware how extraordinarily crowded Hopleaf can be. But if we arrived "early," say at 5:30pm, how long do you think we would have to wait to get a table? 15 minutes is fine, 45 is probably not.


    Congratulations!

    At 5:30pm a table of two will likely be seated right away (but I'm not making any guarantees--I'm just speaking from past experience).

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #95 - March 28th, 2008, 9:00 am
    Post #95 - March 28th, 2008, 9:00 am Post #95 - March 28th, 2008, 9:00 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    ews wrote:My wife and I became parents about five weeks ago and are hosting my visiting sister for the week. She has graciously offered to babysit for a couple hours tonight. We were thinking about mussels and steak frites. I am fullly aware how extraordinarily crowded Hopleaf can be. But if we arrived "early," say at 5:30pm, how long do you think we would have to wait to get a table? 15 minutes is fine, 45 is probably not.


    Congratulations!

    At 5:30pm a table of two will likely be seated right away (but I'm not making any guarantees--I'm just speaking from past experience).

    Best,
    Michael


    I, also speak from past experience, and Michael's experience was the same as mine. We got there a few minutes before the dinig room opened and there were 2-3 tables of folks waiting as well. We all got seated right away. Should be no problem. Congrats on your new addition and enjoy your night out!!
  • Post #96 - March 30th, 2008, 7:00 pm
    Post #96 - March 30th, 2008, 7:00 pm Post #96 - March 30th, 2008, 7:00 pm
    edgewaterglutton wrote:Just wait until the pork belly comes back. The Hop Leaf's Pork Belly was the best thing I've eaten in 2007.


    A while back I posted that I was extremely disappointed in the pork belly and now, because of edge's comment, I'm curious whether anyone's had it recently and whether it was moist, slightly crispy, and oh-so-sweet as it ought to be, or dry, crunchy, and overly salty as was during my last experience?

    cjk
    Homer: Oh, God, why do you mock me?

    Marge: Homer, that's not God. That's a waffle that Bart threw on the ceiling.

    Homer [contemplatively, to waffle]: I know I should not eat thee, but...[takes bite]
    ...Mmmmmm. Sacra-licious.
  • Post #97 - March 31st, 2008, 8:33 am
    Post #97 - March 31st, 2008, 8:33 am Post #97 - March 31st, 2008, 8:33 am
    We were there on Saturday and had a pork belly with a avacado banana mousse. Belly was nicely crispy on top and soft and juicy thruought. First time at Hop Leaf and loved it. The one thing I wasn't a fan of was the brisket. It was way fatty to the point we had to remove the bread and do a fatiotomy procedure on our sammy. Other that that everything was great.
  • Post #98 - March 31st, 2008, 11:44 am
    Post #98 - March 31st, 2008, 11:44 am Post #98 - March 31st, 2008, 11:44 am
    After a two year hiatus Susanne and I had dinner at Hopleaf Sunday evening.We split and order of the mussles along with a Nueske ham sandwich and the brisket on sourdough.
    Everything was outstanding, but for me the real star of the evening was the Montreal brisket. A fantastic combination of seasoning and just enough smoke so as not to overpower the flavor of the beef.
    Coupled up with the frites and washed down with a De Konick this has got to be one of the finer sandwiches in town.
  • Post #99 - March 31st, 2008, 1:46 pm
    Post #99 - March 31st, 2008, 1:46 pm Post #99 - March 31st, 2008, 1:46 pm
    JSM wrote:and the brisket on sourdough.
    Everything was outstanding, but for me the real star of the evening was the Montreal brisket. A fantastic combination of seasoning and just enough smoke so as not to overpower the flavor of the beef.


    i was just about the montreal brisket when i read this... we split the mussels for 1 and a montreal brisket sandwich.

    even though they call it their specialty, i can only get so excited about mussels...

    the brisket was fantastic and worth going there for. it's not quite like being at schwartz's deli, but it's very very passable as similar--perhaps even better. the best brisket sandwich i've had in chicago. (wait, the only smoked brisket sandwich i've had in chicago? i can't really think of where else?...). the dark rye bread isn't the same as what you'd get at Schwartz's, and the mustard is more gourmet. but it's pretty outstanding. and it was a cheap meal from what i remember.

    their beer menu is pretty out of this world, though i don't drink beer. in the spirit of things, i did try a few fruity beers and they were pretty great. so i guess i should say... i don't drink most beer. they also had a few pages of wines on their menu. and they had a Normandy cider or two by the bottle... and not marked up too much even. something i rarely if ever see on wine lists, but love oh so much.

    also, re the showing up at 5:30... we showed up at 4:30 on a Saturday, had a few beers... waited til 5:30... there were maybe 10 people that were obviously waiting for the food to start... we waited for a few to go, then walked up... sat down immediately no issue at all. (and i found the staff to be very friendly... )
  • Post #100 - March 31st, 2008, 5:59 pm
    Post #100 - March 31st, 2008, 5:59 pm Post #100 - March 31st, 2008, 5:59 pm
    CG wrote:We were there on Saturday and had a pork belly with a avacado banana mousse. Belly was nicely crispy on top and soft and juicy thruought. First time at Hop Leaf and loved it. The one thing I wasn't a fan of was the brisket. It was way fatty to the point we had to remove the bread and do a fatiotomy procedure on our sammy. Other that that everything was great.


    really glad to hear that--thanks for the update. i woulda complained the first time but a) i wasn't sure if theirs was some sort of less-than-great "Belgian" version and b) as I recall, the girlfriend wasn't feeling well and we had to skedaddle anyway. but it certainly sounds as though a return trip is in order.
    Homer: Oh, God, why do you mock me?

    Marge: Homer, that's not God. That's a waffle that Bart threw on the ceiling.

    Homer [contemplatively, to waffle]: I know I should not eat thee, but...[takes bite]
    ...Mmmmmm. Sacra-licious.
  • Post #101 - March 31st, 2008, 11:23 pm
    Post #101 - March 31st, 2008, 11:23 pm Post #101 - March 31st, 2008, 11:23 pm
    hmm... so his brisket was bad, pork was good... your pork was bad.. my brisket was good... sounds like maybe they have some consistency issues
  • Post #102 - April 1st, 2008, 9:55 am
    Post #102 - April 1st, 2008, 9:55 am Post #102 - April 1st, 2008, 9:55 am
    dddane wrote:hmm... so his brisket was bad, pork was good... your pork was bad.. my brisket was good... sounds like maybe they have some consistency issues


    I also tried the brisket some time ago, on the reco of an earlier post on this board. As I recall, I had to choke it down with copious amounts of beer as it was rather dry and salty. At the time, I chalked it up to my being unschooled in the ways of brisket. Umm...btw, is it supposed to be quite that DRY?
  • Post #103 - April 1st, 2008, 12:55 pm
    Post #103 - April 1st, 2008, 12:55 pm Post #103 - April 1st, 2008, 12:55 pm
    One of the most overlooked items on thier menu is the CB&J. Its cashew butter, fig jam, and morbier cheese on sourdough anf then fried in butter.......mmmmmm. Pure delicious gluttony.
  • Post #104 - April 1st, 2008, 3:16 pm
    Post #104 - April 1st, 2008, 3:16 pm Post #104 - April 1st, 2008, 3:16 pm
    titus wong wrote:
    dddane wrote:hmm... so his brisket was bad, pork was good... your pork was bad.. my brisket was good... sounds like maybe they have some consistency issues


    I also tried the brisket some time ago, on the reco of an earlier post on this board. As I recall, I had to choke it down with copious amounts of beer as it was rather dry and salty. At the time, I chalked it up to my being unschooled in the ways of brisket. Umm...btw, is it supposed to be quite that DRY?


    This was my experience. I think part of the issue is that Montreal-style brisket is different from what you might find at, for example, Smoque, and either you like that style or you don't. I didn't care for it, but there are so many other wonderful selections that I've never missed glossing over this one.

    Take their Scotch egg -- I'll be sad when they take it off their menu for the season. All that soft-boiled goodness! Oh well, though, I guess it's one (the only?) reason to look forward to next winter, when the it might return.
  • Post #105 - April 1st, 2008, 4:14 pm
    Post #105 - April 1st, 2008, 4:14 pm Post #105 - April 1st, 2008, 4:14 pm
    danimal79191 wrote:One of the most overlooked items on thier menu is the CB&J. Its cashew butter, fig jam, and morbier cheese on sourdough anf then fried in butter.......mmmmmm. Pure delicious gluttony.


    That sounds awesome. I live right by there, I really need to try it sometime.
    Logan: Come on, everybody, wang chung tonight! What? Everybody, wang chung tonight! Wang chung, or I'll kick your ass!
  • Post #106 - April 1st, 2008, 4:32 pm
    Post #106 - April 1st, 2008, 4:32 pm Post #106 - April 1st, 2008, 4:32 pm
    CB&J: One Great Sandwich.
    Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
    "You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
  • Post #107 - April 1st, 2008, 10:50 pm
    Post #107 - April 1st, 2008, 10:50 pm Post #107 - April 1st, 2008, 10:50 pm
    I dream about the CB&J.

    And, I have to say that I've never experienced the rudeness that so many complain about at Hopleaf. Some of the bartenders don't go out of their way to chat with me, but no one has ever been rude or ignored me. I think I must just go there when they are in a good mood.
  • Post #108 - May 3rd, 2008, 8:38 pm
    Post #108 - May 3rd, 2008, 8:38 pm Post #108 - May 3rd, 2008, 8:38 pm
    I stopped at Hopleaf today at about 6:00 p.m. for something to drink/eat. As has been my experience at other times I've visited, the staff performed excellently and with cordiality and speed. This was the first time I've been back to Hopleaf since the smoking ban has been in place, and I had a better time sitting in the bar/front area than ever before.

    My beer of choice was Dark Horse Brewing's Crooked Tree I.P.A.. Here's what the brewery's website says about the ale:

    "Inspired by West Coast I.P.A.'s, but brewed with Michigan style. The Crooked Tree is heavily dry hopped to give it a big aroma of pine and citrus. The flavors are big, yet very balanced between fresh hops and malt. Often described as "grapefruit" our hops give this beer an excellent fruit flavor that finishes dry, crisp, and clean. It will pour a nice deep copper color with a bit of haziness. Because of our almost patented "Intense Transfer Methods" our Crooked Tree has won several medals in the India Pale Ale category."

    My initial reaction to it was "thick and velvety." I liked the first pint more than the second, however. I ordered some of Hopleaf's house potato chips with my first pint; a nice compliment.

    For my entree I chose a stew - of lamb, fingerling potato's, spring onions and fresh peas, is cooked in North Coast Brewery's Brother Thelonious ale (a dark brown Belgian ale). Carrying a $16 price-tag, I thought the portion a bit small, but it was rich and flavorful.

    I've not yet sat/eaten in the rear dining area, always choosing, instead, to sit at one of the tables or booths in front near the bar. One of the things which makes visiting Hopleaf a good experience for me is the atmosphere of that bar room; even more so now that the clouds of smoke have disappeared.

    Though there were several open tables in front when I arrived, they quickly filled. In addition to the neighborhood types, on hand were the suburban middle/older aged folks out for an excursion from, I suspected, the suburbs. Some of these folks entered and looked around, with the wide-eyed "newbie" expression on their faces - wondering just what they'd gotten themselves into.

    As I walked through the door on my way out and set course for some desserts to take home - from nearby Pasticceria Natafina - I asked myself why I hadn't been returning to Hopleaf more often.
  • Post #109 - May 5th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #109 - May 5th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #109 - May 5th, 2008, 11:26 am
    I was also at Hopleaf on Saturday, arriving at 5:30 or 6 -- by 7, all of the tables seemed full. We were eating on the mezzanine level, or whatever, and it looked like they were seating people in the private room also located upstairs (or it was just a private party). There also seemed to be a really nice back patio -- sadly, it was too chilly on Saturday and no one seemed to be out there (or it's not ready yet -- we didn't ask).

    New to their May menu are frogs' legs. I've never had frogs' legs, so I can't compare, but I thought these were fantastic. I think there were three pairs of legs for $10 -- nicely tender, juicy meat with an excellent herb oil. There's also a new compound butter for the steak frittes -- in case anyone was over the maitre'd butter, there was a lemon-horseradish option, too.
  • Post #110 - May 16th, 2008, 4:14 pm
    Post #110 - May 16th, 2008, 4:14 pm Post #110 - May 16th, 2008, 4:14 pm
    I don't know if this is a new item on the menu, or if I had just overlooked it in the past. But the steamed mussels now also come in a coconut milk broth with ginger and jalapeños. I know some may think it a sacrilege of sorts to not get the mussels prepared Belgian-style. I admit to feeling like a bird striking at a shiny object by ordering a new-fangled version of a tried and true favorite. That feeling faded immediately upon the first bite. What a great flavor combination. My wife and I split a Mussels for One, while having some fine beers, and were planning on ordering a sandwich or entree. Instead we got an extra bit of bread and used it to sop up some of the fantastic broth. We were actually stuffed, and used the saved money to get another round of drinks.

    I also noticed the Duck Reuben was back. I know some others had been lamenting the fact that it was gone. I'll get to that one on the next visit.
  • Post #111 - July 2nd, 2008, 5:15 pm
    Post #111 - July 2nd, 2008, 5:15 pm Post #111 - July 2nd, 2008, 5:15 pm
    I have to be honest, but the last two times we went it was just a plain bad experience to the point that it will take some convincing for us to go back. The first bad experience was with the mussels (Wittkerke version), which we had ordered nearly every time we had been there previously. I don't know what the heck they did with them, but they were flat-out awful. Practically inedible. I don't think I can accurately describe just how bad they were.

    I can't recall what we ordered the next time (it was late last year) but that time my wife and I both tried ordering something other than the mussels after the previous disaster (we were afraid to order them again -- they really were that bad), and we were fairly unimpressed with our meals. I can stand waiting an hour and a half for a table if the food is going to be good, especially with their beer selection. But that was two straight times with below average to just plain awful food, and since we have to make an effort to go there we have decided that it's not worth it. We can walk to the Map Room for a beer selection that is every bit as good.

    The place really was truly excellent 4 years ago. I miss that place. And the owners are quite nice. With as crowded as they always are, I'm sure they won't miss our business. But the days of me recommending the place are over.
  • Post #112 - July 2nd, 2008, 11:12 pm
    Post #112 - July 2nd, 2008, 11:12 pm Post #112 - July 2nd, 2008, 11:12 pm
    The mussels (Belgian-style w. Witterkerke) were quite edible about an hour ago....
  • Post #113 - July 3rd, 2008, 1:47 am
    Post #113 - July 3rd, 2008, 1:47 am Post #113 - July 3rd, 2008, 1:47 am
    Regrets, but I'll add one to the inedible column. It seems like 2-3 out of every two dozen served there lately are foul liquefied fishbait. I've stopped trying. That said, the sausage plate, ham sandwich, brisket, desserts, frites, and beer service remain off the charts outstanding.
  • Post #114 - August 6th, 2008, 11:33 am
    Post #114 - August 6th, 2008, 11:33 am Post #114 - August 6th, 2008, 11:33 am
    Oh my Sweetness. . .the meaty yet obscenely tender Montreal Brisket Sandwich at Hopleaf was other-worldly. Easily the most tender brisket i've ever placed on this gluttonous tongue (Which was a pleasant surprise considering some LTHers said theirs was dry or gristly). I cannot say enough about that sammich. Bread. Meat. Horsey sauce. Perfection.

    I wasnt crazy about the frittes, but the MacnCheese with Stilton cheese was outstanding.
  • Post #115 - October 10th, 2008, 12:24 pm
    Post #115 - October 10th, 2008, 12:24 pm Post #115 - October 10th, 2008, 12:24 pm
    Unintentionally beer night turned into date night on the Goose Island Bourbon County release night, but that wasn't really tragic. The Belgian style mussels and steak frites never get old and the beer selection here is excellent. In terms of "casual neighborhood eateries," I think Hopleaf excels the most with good portion sizes, staff and atmosphere is casual but not classless, and everything is really reasonably priced and for a lack of better word, yummy.

    Decidedly, I prefer dining in as opposed to stopping in for a drink, unless I'm able to score a booth. I think that's probably the only turn off to this place is the excessively crowded bar area. I haven't even bothered on a prime weekend night because I can only guess how stifling it must get. Either way, I'm totally a Hop Leaf fan club member now.
  • Post #116 - October 10th, 2008, 4:10 pm
    Post #116 - October 10th, 2008, 4:10 pm Post #116 - October 10th, 2008, 4:10 pm
    I was there last weekend and the pork belly confit is back on the menu -- spice-rubbed, marinated in maple syrup & Corsendonk brown ale, w/pickled green tomato marmelade, grainy mustard & toast points ($10). And that's right -- confit. This was tremendous and I'm looking forward to the fall evening when I can get both this pork belly and their scotch egg in one tremendously glutonous, over-the-top evening (and yes, with the heart attack not long to follow afterwards).
    best,
    dan
  • Post #117 - October 10th, 2008, 4:47 pm
    Post #117 - October 10th, 2008, 4:47 pm Post #117 - October 10th, 2008, 4:47 pm
    danimalarkey wrote:I was there last weekend and the pork belly confit is back on the menu -- spice-rubbed, marinated in maple syrup & Corsendonk brown ale, w/pickled green tomato marmelade, grainy mustard & toast points ($10). And that's right -- confit. This was tremendous and I'm looking forward to the fall evening when I can get both this pork belly and their scotch egg in one tremendously glutonous, over-the-top evening (and yes, with the heart attack not long to follow afterwards).


    We ordered that and it was so worth it. It's kind of pricey at $10 since you get such a small serving, but it's so good that I didn't feel too bad about it. I could have eaten a whole truck load of that stuff. Mmmmm
  • Post #118 - October 10th, 2008, 6:28 pm
    Post #118 - October 10th, 2008, 6:28 pm Post #118 - October 10th, 2008, 6:28 pm
    Ghazi wrote:Oh my Sweetness. . .the meaty yet obscenely tender Montreal Brisket Sandwich at Hopleaf was other-worldly. Easily the most tender brisket i've ever placed on this gluttonous tongue (Which was a pleasant surprise considering some LTHers said theirs was dry or gristly)...


    Yeah, I was one of those. I'm on record (earlier in this very same thread -- you only have to back up a coupla posts) as dissing the Montreal-style brisket. danimalarkey responded in fact. Since then, I've done a complete 180º and have been ordering it regularly, nearly to the exclusion of everything else on the menu (although I opt for the platter over the sandwich). Brisket, as I have learned from this forum, is a capricious dish, highly subject to variances of temperature, cut, and cooking time. Having said that, whoever it is in the Hopleaf kitchen that has been tasked with making it, has just graduated with honors, and entered the secret Holy Brotherhood of Exalted Pitmasters and Smokehouse Tenders. Wow. It was sublimely tender with layers of smoky spiciness that lingered on the tongue. I had it last night with Bell's Best Brown Ale which turned out to be an excellent pairing. Ghazi got it right, at least for me: that was the best brisket I had in my life.

    Time to eat some crow with that brisket: this about-face is entirely typical of my 14-year love-hate relationship with the Hopleaf. Along with others on this board and its predecessor forum, I have slagged the Hopleaf in the past for brusque service. Well, guess what. Now, I'm on a first-name basis with all of the barstaff who have on occasion, poured me a free beer, and who I have, rightly, tipped generously in return. My frequent patronage has not earned me any special privileges -- I have to wait along with the rest of the madding crowd for a seat at the bar. But I find myself returning to the Hopleaf every few weeks for two basic reasons: good food and good beer.

    Ghazi wrote:I wasnt crazy about the frittes, but the MacnCheese with Stilton cheese was outstanding.


    Word. The Stilton Mac 'n Chee is my go-to order when I'm not feeling very hungry. I favor it over the version served at Kuma's, in that it is drier, which accentuates the creaminess of the Stilton. I usually have it with either a Ommegang Hennepin or a Leffe Blonde, both of which are permanent tap fixtures. One issue their Mac 'n Chee suffers from is the amount of time it spends under the broiler. The way I prefer it is with little peaks of brown, caramelized carbonization amidst a sparse field of chives, which makes for a highly striking visual presentation. At other times, it has come out a uniform light golden color, which although pretty, signals that it is underdone. I've debated with myself whether to send it back when it arrives that way, but haven't worked up the nerve (the servers have me trained too well I guess).

    makemedinner wrote:Unintentionally beer night turned into date night on the Goose Island Bourbon County release night...


    I had that as well after a Surly Furious, a Lagunitas Imperial Red, and two Bell's Best Browns. After so much tasty beer, you would think that a Goose Island offering would make little impact on an alcohol-addled brain, but it did in fact, make a spectacular one. Given it's absurdly high ABV (18%), I initially dismissed it as being a trendy improvisation on the part of GI, but this was the first stout I tasted where the vaunted chocolate notes that most brewers boast of were profound and up-front. I might as well have been drinking a chocolate liqueur it was so rich. A nice way to end the evening, though they could have been more generous -- it was served in an 8 oz. goblet.
  • Post #119 - August 13th, 2009, 10:15 am
    Post #119 - August 13th, 2009, 10:15 am Post #119 - August 13th, 2009, 10:15 am
    Now that I'm living a couple of blocks away, Hopleaf has become a much more regular destination for me. I tried to take a friend who was in from out of town and visiting me last night, but they were unexpectedly shut down due to some sort of plumbing problem. Not sure what the ETA to reopening is, as we moved north to find a different bar before I could chat with the handful of folks lingering outside.

    If you're headed there soon, might be worth calling ahead to confirm that they're open.

    -Dan
  • Post #120 - August 13th, 2009, 10:36 am
    Post #120 - August 13th, 2009, 10:36 am Post #120 - August 13th, 2009, 10:36 am
    I tried to go last night, too; they said they'd be open today. But, at least when I was there, as an apology for being closed, they were handing out coupons for a free drink to anyone they had to turn away. Classy operation.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more