With so many happy hour options in the city, it is wonderful to find one that offers something special. Columbus Tap, at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park (200 N. Columbus Dr.) has put together some exceptional local beers and a menu that elevates “bar food” far above the average. Chef Atticus Garant shows his special touch with both the curation of beverages and the unique food options.
Drawing from Chicago’s rich beer history, Columbus Tap offers a wide variety of beer from several Chicago and Midwestern breweries — featuring a selection of 16 drafts on tap, as well as a vast array of malts, yeasts, adjuncts and curiosities, hops, ciders and sours, and more. They also have a new and very special beer offering. Committed to offering guests new and exciting menu options, Columbus Tap has introduced an exclusive beer called “Bohemian Rye-City” in collaboration with Maplewood Brewery.
“For the new collaboration we have focused on a Bohemian Style Pilsner, where we introduced the addition of Flaked Rye and Applewood Smoked Malt (Barley). The results of adding in the flaked rye and applewood smoked barley gives the beer a unique, easy drinking flavor profile,” said Chef Atticus Garant. “It is a very clean and crisp sip, with a bread like malt quality, and finishes with a hint of spice and notes of smoked barley. On the nose I find it smells very similar to a beer/cider that has spent time in a wooden barrel. It’s almost like we have taken some of the greatest qualities of whiskey and introduced them to a fine craft pilsner.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is a truly excellent, easy-drinking beer.
Even more impressive than the beer options, however, is the superb happy hour menu. Columbus Tap dishes up savory Midwest-focused menus curated by Executive Chef Atticus Garant (DB Bistro, Fairmont Pacific Rim). On a recent visit, I not only sampled a number of the local beer options but I also had the chance to try out three specific menu items that are definitely worth a mention.
Jumbo Pretzels (served with warm beer cheese dip and spicy maple mustard): Although this may sound pedestrian, they have managed to make this something special. The two pretzels are huge, served warm right out of the oven. The warm beer cheese dip was so good that I contemplated just asking for another crock so I could eat it with a spoon. The house-made maple mustard was equally good, but the combination of both the cheese and mustard atop the pretzel was absolutely superb.
Open-Faced Corned Beef Sandwich: This is not on the normal menu and is likely only available for a limited time. Go now! Believe me, this is one of the tastiest preparations of corned beef you will ever experience. It is served open-faced with the corned beef piled high atop a single slice of rye, bread & butter pickles, and pickled red cabbage. The entire thing is then topped with a sunnyside up egg.
Devil’s Food Cake (malted chocolate mousse, bourbon caramel frosting, crunchy “kitchen sink” crumbs): As many readers may know, I am not generally a huge dessert fan. This particular preparation could convert me. The combination of textures (creamy, crunchy) and flavors (chocolate, sugar, caramel, salt) was so expertly balanced that I found myself eating the entire thing without a moment of guilt. I paired this with the extravagant but unbelievably divine Dragon’s Milk (barrel-aged imperial stout, New Holland, Holland, MI). If ever there were a perfect food/beverage pairing – this is it. The salty sweetness of the cake and the dark, rich coffee undertones of the stout were absolutely a perfect marriage.
Columbus Tap is open from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week with a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on Columbus Tap, visit www.columbustap.com or call 312.444.9494.You can follow them on Instagram at @columbustap or visit www.columbustap.com.