Friday, May 15, 2009


It's not often that I'm still raving about a restaurant experience the day after, but I discovered a real Chicago treasure at the Belgian bar called Hopleaf last night.

I've heard tales of this place for months and months, and I finally rounded up a group of friends to head down to Andersonville. Oh baby, the tales were true. This was my idea of the perfect establishment: several hundred Belgian beers (check out just their bottle menu), an innovative food menu that went far beyond typical pub-grub, cozy and comfortable and a touch romantic.

For dinner, I had Belgian-style mussels, steamed in white ale with herbs, served with frites and aioli, plus sweet bread for soaking up the juices. The mussels were melt-in-your mouth, soft and creamy in texture and sweet in taste.

It was very difficult to choose what to drink from the extensive menu, but it was also impossible to make a wrong choice. Grimbergen was my favorite - spicy and full bodied. Kwak was a simple, easy-to-drink amber brew. The Rochefort 10, with an alcohol content of 11%, was a tad on the strong side but dark enough to satisfy my partiality to deep, toasty beers.

And the company was unbeatable.

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