By the strict definition of “sports bar” – bar or tavern featuring numerous television sets and, often, projection TV systems, which allow patrons to watch a variety of sporting events – The Grid might actually qualify. There are over 20 HD TV’s and guests can watch and enjoy the bar’s fantastic food/drink during any sporting event.
But whatever you think you know about “sports bars,” throw it out and let The Grid redefine concept of “chef-driven sports bar” for you.
At 351 West Hubbard you’ll find the best combination of class and comfort. The venue has ventless fireplaces floating atop massive leather booths and each booth has a view of its own personal HD TV. The communal tables also have their own HD TVs. The Grid’s rustic décor, exposed brick and vintage timber ceilings provide an amazingly unique and intimate setting. The interior is intimate, classy, comfortable, and extremely inviting.
Recently, I was invited to come to The Grid to try out their new menu. I grabbed a lucky friend and headed to River North on a cold, windy night. During the course of the evening, we were able to sample several items from the delicious cocktail program alongside some delightfully tasty samples from the menu.
First, let’s dish on the cocktail menu. Amazing! Most of the drinks are named for Chicago neighborhoods (Rush Street, Little Village, Gold Coast, Magnificent Mile, etc.) and are crafted with custom syrups, specialty sodas, and homemade fruit purées.
My friend and I sampled the L.S.D. (Absolute Mandarin, Apple Cider, Salted Caramel Syrup), the GOLD COAST (Mount Gay XO, Cointreau, Cinnamon Syrup, Ginger Beer), the BUCKTOWN (Avion Reposado, Spiced Chai Syrup, Grapefruit Juice), and the RUSH STREET (Makers Mark, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, pictured here). There was not a false note in any of them. Clearly, the mixologists are talented at The Grid.
Although we didn’t try any beer, they have an esoteric beer selection with beers spanning from imports like Peroni and Stielgl to local favorites Goose Island and Revolution Anti-Hero. The beer selection rotates and has some great seasonal brews.
As eye-catching as the décor might be, the most eye-catching thing about The Grid is the superb new menu. Two of Chicago’s culinary all-stars, Thomas Elliott Bowman & Ben Roche, bring playful food to this chef-driven sports bar.
My friend and I started with the Arancini bites served with parmesan and eggplant caponata. They were tremendously flavorful, especially with the savory caponata – crunchy on the outside and smoothly creamy inside. The portion was perfect for sharing with two, and would be great for up to five people (since there are five pieces on the plate).
We followed that appetizer course by trying out two of their inventive “Jars.” These are tasty spreadable creations served inside a classic Mason Jar and perfect for sharing. We opted for the Warm Crab (served with Shiso, scallion, and pita) and the Tuna Poke (served with spicy lemon ginger marinade and prawn crackers). Both were unbelievably flavorful. The prawn crackers were a huge surprise but very tasty and a perfect pairing with the Tuna Poke. There are several other options on the Jar menu, but whichever ones you try you should save room for the crab and the tuna. Wow!
“Traditional” sports bar menus always include things like grilled cheese, fries, burgers, and hot dogs. The Grid takes all of those iconic food items and turns them into something extraordinary.
- Grilled Cheese: “Grid Cheese” consisting of Texas Toast, Butterkase & white cheddar, served with Revolution Anti-Hero Beer Cheese Soup.
- Fries: “Poutine” with fries, pork belly gravy, burrata cheese, bourbon raisins.
- Burgers: A tasty array including the “Big Kahuna Burger” which comes with bacon and ground pork patty, pineapple-jalapeno chutney, teriyaki mayo, cilantro, and a sweet bun.
We did not sample those, but we did go for their version of the hot dog, a Foie Dog. Yes, that’s right. Foie Dog – a “dog” crafted from foie, carmelized onion, Laura Chenel goat cheese, candied apricot, and truffle mayo. If you try nothing else on the menu, you must sample this. Both my friend and I took one bite and looked at each other, totally speechless. It’s that good.
Finally, we saved a tiny bit of space for dessert. Their menu only has three items, but based on the delectability quotient of what we had, I am sure they are all amazing. We opted to sample the Avocado Cheesecake. It’s served in a mason jar just like the items on the Jar menu. This unbelievable concoction involves olive oil cheesecake, topped with pineapple-avocado and pumpkin seeds, served with homemade candied corn chips. It’s nearly impossible to explain the flavors, but believe me it’s something you will want to order again and again.
The Grid is located at 351 West Hubbard Street, just a few blocks west of the Merchandise Mart stop on the Brown Line El. For more information, call 312.321.1351. Follow them on Twitter, on Facebook, or check out their website.
The service is friendly and fast, the food is amazing, the drinks are awesome, and the atmosphere is chic and classy. And, of course, you can watch your favorite sporting event while enjoying all of that! What could be better?
NOTE: All photos (c) The Grid except for the cocktail photo which was taken by my phone. 🙂