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Review Fri Apr 25 2014
I once had a (poorly-grounded, but beloved) theory that stated for every three miles traveled outside Chicago city limits, restaurant quality decreased by one point on a 1-10 scale. Every mile bid adieu to lobster and oysters and greeted Macaroni Grill and Chili's with open arms. So by the time you hit Bolingbrook, the fanciest entrée available for dinner was steak with grilled asparagus.
Despite my unyielding bias towards skyscrapers and crazy taxi drivers, I've recently come to appreciate various food gems in the suburbs, especially ethnic restaurants (as immigrants bring along their culinary customs when moving into the suburbs). But occasionally, you'll stumble upon a good ol' American joint in the middle of Nowheresville and that's exactly what happened at The Lucky Monk, a beer-centric restaurant located in South Barrington.
The city will satiate anyone's desire for verbose but emotionally-satisfying menus, but in the 'burbs--life is simple and dining follows suit. In addition to suburban-savvy entrees, The Lucky Monk offers more unique dishes, including Montreal-style poutine (with stout beef gravy), poblano hummus (poblano and serrano peppers), crispy deviled eggs (Dijon battered eggs with bacon marmalade and truffle oil), and a spelt grain burger crafted from the lager grains used during their brewing. Generous portions easily make for two meals, and the restaurant is apparently popular enough to boast a two-hour wait on weekends.
My carb-loaded meal began with the warm pretzel trio (with Wisconsin cheddar beef fondue, tomato-parmesan sauce, and grainy mustard butter) and finished with the Peppercorn Ranch Burger and Margherita pizza. I particularly enjoyed the fresh tomatoes on my thin-crust "'za," and the moderate use of cheese appealed to my lactose-sensitive gut. The grainy mustard butter was also a novel and tasty revelation, and I'm surprised that the combination doesn't exist in more restaurants. The colossal burger, planted with whole peppercorns and topped with crispy onion strings, was a superb tribute to the sacred dish that is cow wedged between bread.
Although renowned for its Pepcid-worthy pizzas and burgers, The Lucky Monk's existence has always revolved around beer, and they've been perfecting their craft for nearly a decade. In fact, Fallen Angel, their Vienna-style lager, took first place in the 2013 Windy City BREWHAHA. Their house brews are concocted in a 10-barrel brewery near the bar, and their names aptly fit the restaurant's religious theme. Ultimately, the Lucky Monk is a good bridge between P.F. Chang's fried rice and Avec's chorizo-stuffed dates. Good food and even better beer never fails, even if you're in South Barrington, Illinois.