I love beer. I love food. The Lucky Monk in South Barrington has both, but I was left wanting. Though it may seem like this review is about to become a hate fest, let me say that there are a few things about this restaurant/brewery that I did like. The décor was classy. This is a departure from most establishments of this type. The bar was sleek, shiny and its façade was detailed with lights and leather. There hook to chair ratio at the bar was more than adequate (the ladies will know what I’m talking about). A woman needs a place to hang her purse that allows access and security. Hooks under bars are both nifty and practical. If sports is your thing, the bar area alone has about five TVs. If conversation is what you’re there to partake in, a table might be a better choice, but the Lady Gaga and other dance music they blared made it hard to hear no matter where you sat. The bartenders were fairly knowledgeable and polite, though a few minutes of training with the brew master might have been a good idea. It seems no one knows how to set up a flight of beer these days. Light to heavy people! Light to heavy. Why would I start with an IPA or stout? That would ruin your palate for the kölsch beer and Czech pilsners that are often served-up this time of year.
This is a restaurant and pub, right? So, let’s discuss the food and drink. The menu included run-of-the-mill pub food (soup, sandwiches & burgers). Everyone at the bar seemed to be ordering the pizza, so I took that as a good indication of its quality. The goat cheese pizza did not have enough goat cheese or spinach on it. The tomato was definitely canned and had not been drained well. The result: sad, soggy pizza. My companion and I ordered a sampler for $7.95 of some of their beer offerings. Of the five beers we tried, I enjoyed the Belgian Pale Ale and the Irish Red best. The Belgian had a nice bitterness (a little vegetal) and was similar to their wheat beer. The Red was what my companion termed “a good, clean session ale.” After we finished the flight, I ordered a 12 oz. bottle of Tripel Karmeliet which is one of my favorite beers and never a disappointment (unless it’s in a large, green bottle and has been exposed to light too long). Lucky Monk’s international guest beer list is small but awesome and, as you can tell by the name of this place, weights heavily on the Belgian side.
Overall, The Lucky Monk is one of the large, restaurant-brewery hybrids that are opening up all over the suburbs. The beer may be okay, but the passion that went into making the beer doesn’t transfer into the experience. The lunch crowd may be tamer. I went on a Friday night and found the bar packed with drunken groups and couples aged 40+. The loud, thumping music (no dance floor) may be anxiety inducing to those just looking to enjoy a beer or cocktail. Many of the business people in the area claim this is a great lunch place, so The Lucky Monk may deserve another look.
105 Hollywood Boulevard,
South Barrington, IL – (847) 898-0500