You’d think this week’s pick would hail from Canada, but this autumnal red ale actually comes courtesy of San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing. It’s a wonderfully hoppy beer that has just a touch of California maple syrup to balance it out. It’s only available for a few more weeks, so get it now, and go rake the leaves while you have a bottle or two. At 6%, you can afford to. Cheers.
Ever since I tweeted from Smalls about their brisket bibimbop, I’ve been having dreams about it (I know, I’m sick). It’s so obvious and yet, no one in Chicago has dared combine the rich, earthy, smokiness of slow-cooked brisket with the bold, assertive Korean chili paste (gojujang) and crisp, blanched vegetables and rice that are endemic in Korean restaurants. It’s not served in a giant stone bowl, but rather, a simple, aluminum sheet tray. One recommendation: rather than get the standard white rice, ask for the Filipino-inspired garlic rice; you’ll thank me later. (Videography courtesy Todd Rosenberg Photography – @toddrphoto).
Smalls Smoke Shack & More
4009 N. Albany
One of the wonderful things about beer is that it can often be produced and bottled for a specific season. You don’t have to make thousands of cases, but instead, can offer a small batch of something really special for a limited time. Such is the case with most Oktoberfest beers, in demand right now, but only fleetingly. Local brewers Metropolitan and Revolution have some Oktoberfest beers available in the market right now, but only Revolution’s is available in cans; Metropolitan is still just available on tap. This week, Michael says get out there and pick up some of Revolution’s Oktoberfest – it’s an amber lager that will match up really well with your next bratwurst. Prost!
Over the past few years, Nick Spencer has been showing up at places like Dose Market or the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, cooking up his homemade British-style bangers (sausage) and back bacon, and turning them into tasty sandwiches. But over the course of the last year, he’s opened a brick-and-mortar store along Irving Park Road, selling imported grocery items, those bangers and back bacon, as well as some mighty tasty scones. Now, he’s turning the space into more of a cafe, creating several sandwiches. One his most recent creations is the Coronation Chicken Salad, which obviously nods to the Queen, but also integrates his country’s penchant for zesty Indian flavors; in this case, cumin and mango chutney. Pull up a chair with a pot of English tea, and you’ll be transported back to Marylebone in no time. (Videography courtesy: Todd Rosenberg Photography – @toddrphoto)
I was so excited to check out Sala Bua on Saturday night, not only because the early word was that a real Thai woman was cooking down-home dishes here, but also because it was in Chinatown, thus becoming the only place to get a serious som tom fix south of 18th Street. It’s also BYO, which meant I could bring that bottle of riesling trocken auslese I’ve been hanging onto. I met some like-minded, adventurous friends there during a pretty busy dinner service – the restaurant is in the Richland Mall complex, just north of the Chinatown Square Mall, in a space that’s already turned over a few times (I think it was a hot pot place last). I could tell right away the kitchen wasn’t pulling any punches, as I saw several dishes listed in the menu from different regions of Thailand, such as the aformentioned som tom (papaya salad), plus ha mok (ground and steamed catfish curry with coconut cream), kao soi (my favorite chicken coconut curry with boiled and crispy noodles) and sai krog (fermented sausage). The only problem was our server completely misread us, taking us for a bunch of novices who were more interested in egg rolls than tod mun.
This week’s beer, from Germany, comes in a super cool bottle and has a bit of sea salt; it’s extremely refreshing, but a tad hard to find. Naturally, they do carry it at The Hopleaf, as well as a few other bars in town, but you’ll have to ask. Leipziger is the producer, and the correct pronunciation is GO-zuh, as in “rose” plus “uh.” Cheers, or should I say, prost!