Hardware: A Suburban Chicago Dining Delight
There's nothing like a home cooked meal. Hardware Sustainable Gastropub and Brewery offers ingredients that I like to use in my home and has such a welcoming and soft atmosphere. Pulling in to the parking lot you see a giant stone and rows of iron surrounding a hop farm in front of the building (they harvest and use over 1,500lbs annually of 6 different organic hop varieties for their on-site brewery!). In rows going up to the roof on the front wall, vertical herb gardens are fighting through this unseasonably cold weather--sure to look stunning this summer! Next to the entrance is a huge outdoor patio. We were impressed at the number of people eating out there, for a chilly afternoon between lunch and dinner crowds. Inside, we were seated at a hightop on the bar side--which was perfect because we were right next to the full glass wall looking through to their indoor greenhouse. We watched their in-house farmer stringing up beans and tending to the many varieties of lettuces! Knowing that the food was being cared for so closely melts my heart.
The staff was all welcoming and friendly. Our server was very attentive, knowledgeable about the specific restaurant qualities, and had great menu recommendations. We started with the charcuterie board. I requested goat and sheep cheese as I don't digest cow dairy very well. They were accommodating to this request (even though the menu said the chef would pick). Our board was filled with two goat cheeses (one of which was so tangy and delicious) and a sheep cheese. I loved them all, but I wish I could remember the name of the real goat-y one (that's how I like 'em --haha). The meat was house-cured (again, this makes me so happy) Canadian bacon, lamb sausage (my favorite), and capicola. Let's talk about the olives...OH MY! I feel like I won't ever be able to enjoy the olive bars in stores anymore now that I've had real olives. There was a huge difference in flavor and these were amazing! Makes me want to go to Italy and Greece! You see, I have only ever liked black olives...but I have this theory that even if I don't like something, if I keep trying it, eventually I will. So, the kalamata and castelvetrano olives have grown on me. The Hardware olives were so good, I happily ate all the varieties! The charcuterie board included a smear of mustard (tasted similar to my homemade version) and rhubarb jam. The spicy nut mix and flatbread I left for my hubby. The edamame went untouched, we don't do unfermented soy.
For hors d'oeuvres, per our server's recommendation, we ordered the Spanish Sausage salad. WOW. This was amazing. The greens were so flavorful (slightly bitter and earthy--I love that). roasted red bell peppers, house-made dressing, and topped with Marcona almonds that you could see were sprinkled with sea salt (yum)! My heart skipped a beat when I saw the Marcona almonds. These almonds are from Spain and not sprayed/treated the same way even as almonds grown in the USA, even if they're organic. What about the sausage? Well, it is house made and wood smoked and out of this world!!! Such a magnificent salad. I'd go back for this alone!
I just had to try a glass of wine since they have such a great selection. They are categorized by organic, biodynamic, or sustainable. However, I hit the jackpot and found one that was all three. I ordered the Cotes De Pomar Blanc, 2016 and it was slightly mineral-y and crisp, pretty tasty. Actually, I was quite surprised as I haven't tried many organic wines that I would want to try again...but this one, I would (even though it had13.42% alcohol and I prefer wines with 12.50% or less). Next time I will try to find a wine from their menu that fits into all four categories!
For dinner, I ordered the bison burger with goat cheese instead of cow cheese without a bun (however, they DO make gluten-free buns in house!). The burger was served with a thick, juicy and vibrant yellow heirloom tomato, some delicious house-made pickles, and yukon potatoes. It was great, I ate it all, and was pleasantly full. Luckily my husband took a photo before I started eating (see top pic), because it was all gone before I knew it!
My husband ordered the smoked brisket sandwich. The meat on the sandwich was about 2 inches thick! It had a fresh slaw and coffee stout bbq sauce, and was accompanied by the same delicious in-house pickles, and waffle chips. He had half his sandwich left! Then to go, he picked up a howler of their freshly brewed pale ale, Earl the Pearl.
Before we headed back home, we did a quick tour of the brewery, which had quite a few fermentation tanks as well as barrels to age certain beers. This was a well spent 40-minute drive and we will definitely be heading back soon. I look forward to sitting on their patio, seeing the hops in bloom, and the entrance popping with fresh herbs! Have you ever visited Hardware or somewhere like it? Let me know, and #GetSatiated.