August 20, 2015

The BF and I recently checked out Villains, a South Loop bar and restaurant featuring an impressive craft beer selection and a seasonal, chef-driven menu. The original Villains opened in 2007 across the street from the current location. The previous version was a neighborhood bar known for its burgers, while the new version is certainly new and improved. The space is industrial yet cozy and though it's been open since May, still has that new car smell.

For starters, the draft beer is gigantic and global, featuring 40 varieties of Denmark's Mikkeller beer alone. Many beers are rare in their own right, or rare to see on menus in Chicago. Each is listed with detailed tasting notes that certainly come in handy. We had the pleasure of exploring the beer menu through a series of beer pairings during our five course dinner. Our favorite beer of the evening was our random selection, Oak-aged Bretta from Logsdon Farms in Hood River, Oregon. We loved it so much, we found a store selling it and purchased it the next day!

Villains Chicago
Beer Pairing Dinner
Chef Dennis Stover's (HotChocolate, Longman & Eagle, Vie, The Publican, Big Star) food menu is not as large as Villains' beer list, but everything is carefully executed and changes seasonally. Each menu item also is listed with two suggested beer pairings. Our first three courses were from the starters portion of the menu which you could easily make a meal of. We started with delicate ricotta agnolotti pasta with sungold tomatoes, Parmesan broth, and a melrose pepper vinaigrette. The dish was light and bright and bursting with nutty and acidic flavor. Our beer pairing was the malty Anderson Valley Boont Amber, and Blanche du Paradis, a witbier from Montreal.

Villains Chicago
Ricotta Agnolotti
Course two featured grilled Norwegian trout with roasted chili crema, cucumbers, and ground cherry vinaigrette. The fish was so delicious and fresh! I loved the vinaigrette and cucumbers as well. This dish was paired with Zwickel Bavarian lager from St. Louis, and Seizoen Bretta, the unoaked version of the first saison we tried.

Villains Chicago
Grilled Norwegian Trout
Moving along, course three was grilled, milk braised pork belly with roasted summer squash, flageolet beans and honeycomb. Now that I've eaten pork belly with honeycomb, I never want to eat pork belly with anything else. Truly fantastic! And that crisp, fresh summer squash and beans made me so happy. Yes, happy, because, before you know it, it's going to be cold. And snowy. This dish was paired with Smuttynose's Old Brown Dog and Half Acre's Navaja, a double IPA that just so happens to be in my fridge at this very moment.

Villains Chicago
Grilled, Milk Braised Pork Belly
Course four is about when we wanted to explode with fullness. But alas, we prevailed. The Slagel Farms dry-aged top sirloin was served with smoked potatoes, sweet corn, green beans, and a leek vinaigrette. While the steak was overcooked for my liking, I did enjoy its flavor and OMG that sweet corn! Amazing. Summer, please stay forever. Our steak was paired with Deschutes' The Stoic, a Belgian quadruple out of Portland, Oregon (a favorite brewery of ours), and Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout from Norway. That quad though...drink with caution!

Villains Chicago
Slagel Farms Dry-Aged Top Sirloin
Last but not least, our dessert was another superb summer creation. The cheesecake surprise (!) was served with honey roasted peaches and mint! It was a nice and light ending to our seasonal meal! We enjoyed this dessert with the rare Mikkeller Beer Geek Dessert oatmeal stout. This was another strong beer coming in at a whopping 11% ABV. Not only was that impressive, what's also impressive is the fact that this beer is brewed once. That's it.

Villains Chicago
Cheesecake with Honey Roasted Peaches, Mint
We truly enjoyed our time at Villains and the staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the beer list and menu. This is definitely the place to bring your craft-beer-loving friends and foodies alike. We will definitely be back to explore the beer list again in hopes of finding our next favorite craft brew.

Note: my meal at Villains was complimentary; however, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Villains Chicago
730 S. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60605
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