I've been driving around the greater Chicagoland area on sales calls quite a bit recently and have made a point of grabbing inexpensive but tasy meals in most of the 'burbs I'm visiting. Shame on me for not posting reviews all the time!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of eating at the Onion Pub & Brewery, 22221 Pepper Road, Barrington, IL 60010. I had driven past it on a previous trip, and thought it seemed interesting- I had even stuck my head in, but hadn't ordered anything...
With a couple of hours between my morning and afternoon appointments, I drove over to the Pub. The charming/goofy exterior resembles a tavern from a bygone era- heavy timbers, stuccoed walls and endearing mural scenes on the larger walls. (good parking by the way).
Beyond the heavy external doors, a statue of Humphrey bogart startles the Hell out of you as you walk to the host's podium- I was immediately greeted warmly and escorted to a warmly lit portion of the dining room, illuminated both by the sun through stained-glass style windows and non-invasive lighting... the table & dining area was immaculate and simply appointed, just a candle salt & pepper on the table, with a flip-top table plackard with information about the bar menu, desserts, and the fresh brewed beers from the pub's own vats!
A kindly waitress ( I thik later I heard her mention she was a manager) took my drink order than smoothly handed me off to my waitress. I Ordered their Heffe Weiss- Excellent sweeter brew, smooth drinking with banana and clove notes- slightly improved by the provided lemon wedge- served in an excellent tall, narrow glass.
As It was my first visit, I reverted to my pub yardstick- Wings & burgers. The menu is amazinly deep for a pub with a huge variety of appetizers ranging from the usual suspects (wings & nachos) to a hummus platter and crabcakes. The entrees are well varied, too- there were chciken, steaks, fish, pastas, and a veal dish. As I sipped my beer, i watched tall, exciting sandwiches arrive for my neighbors.
The half order of wings that arrived within minutes were rather disappointing. Vibrantly red, and pleasantly saucy, the wings had been rolled in a very light coating of cornmeal- they tasted slightly freezer-burned and the texture of the crust was slightly gritty. The Blue cheese dressing closely resembled Kraft creamy blue cheese dressing with chopped parsley- not bad, but not particularly noteworthy. The table ware was rolled in a cloth napkin, but as there were no other napkins available, I found myself wiping my mouth on the cocktail napkin under my beer instead of putting a sloppy napkin back on my lap (I was dressed for a meeting).
The burger that arrived a few minutes later erased, no, ERADICATED my doubts.
It was definitely one of the best burgers I have ever eaten and within the top 5 most satisfying eating experiences I've ever had!
The large oval platter was set before me. A beautifully seared burger sat atop a lightly toasted bun (already drenched with juice, but not sloppy). The sesame top bun sat adjacent with a shock of bright green-leaf lettuce, a thick slice of tomato, and a slice of red onion with some pickle slices. A rammekin of creamy coleslaw perched above two smaller rammekins with yellow mustard and ketcup for the generous but not overwhelming pile of crispy, golden fries.
My first bite of burger was... Wow. The juice flowed into my mouth and down my wrist! (After Lunch I had to take my watch off to wash my hands!) The meat has a wonderful texture firm and smooth, but ground just coarse enough to see that this was from an animal! Perfectly seasoned, the light veneer of ketchup and mustard I applied to the sandwich were barely necessary. The bun never fell apart despite the juicy burger and my ravenous chewing.
If there was any shortfall on the platter, it came in the coleslaw. Though good, it was not as creamy as it first appeared, more like a white wattery dressing than a creamy coating for the shredded cabbage. The slaw was flavored with celery seed and what to me seemed like an extreme quantity of cumin.
I finished the meal with one of their brewed root beers. It, too was excellent. Creamy without being heavy- it has a distinct liquorice notes with a pronounced vanilla flavor. The Root beer was quite sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.
I made it in and out in about 45 minutes, well fed, watered and slightly messy! I washed up in the immaculate washroom in the hammered tin sink (just a nice touch) and went on my way to my afternoon appointment.
I know Chef Kieth Baxter is working on getting the patio ready for the summer and the menu is slowly evolving to include more upscale items. Pass on the wings, but ORDER ONE OF THOSE BURGERS!!!