The Chicago area has officially welcomed it's first authentic German micro-brewery, beer hall, restaurant, and beer garden to the area. Hofbräuhaus Chicago opened their doors for the first time last night at 5500 Park Place in Rosemont. Prior to their 9:00 p.m. opening, the restaurant held a Media Tour and sampling. I decided to grab my friend Tom and head over to the tour to see what all the fuss was about surrounding Hofbräuhaus Chicago.
The new 20,000 square foot restaurant becomes the fourth Hofbräuhaus location in the United States. The Chicago location, like the others, captures the German style of eating by seating people at long, communal tables to dine as live music plays around them.
The coolest part about the new Hofbräuhaus Chicago is not the Dirndl-wearing waitresses or the live entertainment, it is the the micro-brewery that is on site. Brewmaster Ben Zollenkopf, a Bavarian native, has a say in every drop of beer made from the modern brewery located at the new restaurant.
My friend Tom said the beer was absolutely delicious. I think the worst part about the beer is that you just have so many choices that it is hard to finally settle on one. Whether you prefer Premium Lager, Light, Dunkel, Hefe Wizen, or a seasonal beer, Hofbräuhaus has it all.
Of course, once you get past the extensive list of beers available, the food is the next most important thing. Chef Klaus Lotter, who is from the area, has studied all over the world, but has returned to Chicagoland to lead the kitchen at Hofbräuhaus Chicago. I must say that while touring the kitchen, it is pretty obvious that Chef Lotter runs his kitchen like a fine oiled machine. The kitchen looked like an assembly line filled with delicious edible products.
The main product on the menu is pretzels, the perfect beer companion. Of course every German restaurant has them, but Hofbräuhaus does it right with a delicious pretzel served with sweet mustard, onion mustard, and Obazter cheese. I will confess that I had so much pretzel that I was not sure if I would be hungry enough to eat the main entrees that were still to come.
If a pretzel is not your cup of tea for an appetizer, fear not because Hofbräuhaus has you covered. There are several Bavarian snack trays to choose from as well. The Munchner Wurstsalat and Bavarian Cold Cut Sandwich platters are very delicious. The cheeses they use to complete the entrees are just phenomenal.
When it comes down to ordering your main dish at Hofbräuhaus, I highly recommend going with the imported Sauerkraut and sausages. Of course, the Chicken Bratwurst is worthy of a mention as well. Tom and I had fun trying pretty much everything on the menu, and it was all exceptional.
As good as everything was, my favorite thing was not the main dish, but a side dish. I instantly fell in love with the potato and bread dumplings. The potato dumpling had a wonderful texture and taste, and the bread dumplings were just out of this world delicious. I think I actually had more dumplings then I did anything else during the course of the evening.
Add the amount of dumplings to the amount of pretzel I had consumed earlier in the evening, and I was mere seconds from a food coma. However, no restaurant tour would be complete without sampling everything on the menu. So, no matter how full I was, the menu had yet to be fully critiqued.
Fortunately, desserts were next, and thankfully last. The Kasekuchen, a bavarian cheese cake with raspberry sauce, was delicious, as was the Apfelstrudel, a.k.a. apple strudel, but the best dessert that was served last night was the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, a black forest chocolate cake. The Kirschtorte is worth saving room for on my next visit.
All-in-all, Hofbräuhaus Chicago offers a wonderful German-style dining experience, and one that anybody is bound to have fun at. Hofbräuhaus Chicago is deinfitely worthy of making a trip out to Rosemont for.
The restaurant is open starting today from 11:00 a.m. to Midnight from Sunday through Wednesday. On Thursday, you can enjoy the fare from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., and on Friday and Saturday, Hofbräuhaus Chicago is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
I encourage everyone to go out and give it a try, and be sure to let me know what you thought. Also, be sure to visit my Facebook page as I have a special video from the evening that I am going to share a little later in the day.