Can you imagine a sports bar, a wedding hall, New Orleans cuisine, and a bevvy of craft beer all in one place? Or, can you imagine French, Cajun, Native American, Midwestern, New England, Belgian, New Orleans, Chicago, and Maine cultures all converging in one location?
Well, you don’t have to. You can head to Darien and experience that marriage of cultures, cuisine, and craft all in one place – Chuck’s Southern Comfort Café.
The original Chuck’s has been around in Burbank for a few years and has been featured on such shows as the Food Network’s Diners’, Drive-Ins and Dives and WTTW’s Check, Please. However, the Darien location has the added feature of offering banquet and reception halls. It’s surreal, you walk in and to your left you see wedding halls and to the right is a sizable sports bar with all the typical features — bar, taps, signs, numerous large TVs, pub tables, and more. Keep on walking through the sports bar and you find a door that leads to a pleasant, roomy, rectangular patio section that can easily fit 100 people and is adorned with small trees, table umbrellas, and flower beds which help provide ambiance in an otherwise parking lot patio facing a busy road.
The beer list will appease even the pickiest craft brew geek. With over 25 beers on tap, and another 130 beers (on average) in bottles and cans, one would be hard pressed to be dissatisfied. I recommend taking a gander at the menu online before sitting down, otherwise you may need twenty minutes to peruse the multi-page in-house beer menu before deciding. It’s that big, and it’s that good.
Chuck’s does not hide it’s affinity for New Orleans with plenty of Louisiana’s Abita beer, beignet breakfasts, and Cajun dishes galore. As they say, when in New Orleans, have the jambalaya. Okay, that’s not really something people say, but I do. I ordered the blackened chicken jambalaya and it provided plenty of Cajun-style spice and heat that made sipping the beer that much more pleasant (and frequent). The tomato sauce was fresh and a little sweet which balanced the spice well. And, the chicken was succulent and juicy. A little green onion garnish added another note –a nice touch to the already complex flavors. I loved it.
Although it celebrates its “New Orleans” style, it is also supportive of the local culture, notably by supporting the newest brewery on the block, Miskatonic brewery, located in Darien about a bottle cap’s throw away from Chuck’s. On the day I arrived, Miskatonic was preparing to take over the taps at Chucks that night. I couldn’t be there for the event, but the taps were already ready, so I indulged…and that’s easy to do on $4/draft Tuesdays, I might add.
I had all three of the available Miskatonic selections:
- Wise Fool Imperial Pale Ale (IPA): Excellent bitterness resulting from the mixed, dry hops that hits the pallet immediately. A little sweetness accents each drink to provide sublime balance of bitter and sweet. The bitterness lingers gently with the aftertaste — and that’s a compliment.
- Catchpenny Session Rye: I wouldn’t call this beer a homerun, but it was a solid double off-the-wall. The Rye flavor is a tad gentle for my liking; I prefer my rye beer to provide robust rye flavor. Some toasty malts and sweetness accentuate the mild rye taste. Regardless, the rye flavor was good, and the beer was easy to drink and enjoyable.
- Shield Maiden American Pale Ale (APA): Easily my favorite of the bunch. A mix of hops – Warrior, Equinox and Cascade hops, for you brewing geeks – allows for a sweetness with citrus notes and slightly tart undertones that balances the bitterness that is almost as prevalent as what is found in Wise Fool. The unsullied balance turns this complex beer into an easy beer to drink, notably on a warm, humid summer day. Basically, It’s GOOD.
And since it was only four bucks a draft, I rounded out my day with an Allagash White, From Maine. Allagash White is a traditional Belgian Witbier with notes of orange, lemon, banana, coriander, and a little spice that is noticeable on the aftertaste. The banana and spice, along with the bready-wheat aspects of the beer, provide for a wonderful Belgian brew.
Darien is a lucky town to have both Chuck’s and Miskatonic Brewing (they have a taproom, too, if you’d like to head over there). If you know any couples looking to tie the knot, send them to Chucks. If you don’t want any cake, or you are trying to avoid the endless parade of toasts, just walk down the hall to the sports bar and get some BBQ or Cajun food and great beer. I’d recommend trying Darien’s new brews; Miskatonic is totally worth the price of any registry item your purchased, and then some.
Better yet, make sure the couple takes advantage of the wedding package that includes craft beer because, as we all know, the couple that drinks craft beer together, stays together.
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