Haymarket Pub & Brewery is a great surprise. It is as much a restaurant as it is pub or brewery, and the menu elevates the experience to far more than its appearance. Then there’s its deference to Chicago history. The Haymarket Affair led to the worker’s right to eight hours between shifts, and where better to spend your off-time today than here?
Haymarket’s dark exterior dominates its block of both Randolph and Halsted. The interior is no brighter, and it seems a bit disconcerting at first that perhaps one is not as warmly welcomed as one might prefer. But these are false impressions because Haymarket is all about making you feel at home among house brews and excellent food. To our way of thinking, this is more of a gastropub, in a London kind of way, than a pub and brewery. Since we can get everything we want in life from Haymarket at a reasonable price, we like it.
The dining area is expansive and there is additional seating in the rear of the building, which doubles as event and entertainment space. The stainless-steel brewery production facility is the focal centerpiece in the space. The dark wood bar, tables and chairs provide a classic pub feel, as numerous TV screens provide a warm glow and a variety of sports and infotainment content. The walls dotted with art and beer signs, including recognition of the owners’ friends’ 3 Floyds Brewery.
Haymarket is owned by John Neurauter and Pete Crowley, who met at Rock Bottom Brewery when John was doing an amateur brew-for-a-day outing and Pete was the in-house brewmaster in charge. They hit it off and their friendship, well, fermented into the Haymarket craft brewery adventure. Pete’s road to meeting John was similarly fortuitous. He was on a road trip from his EMT profession and, while in Aspen, stopped in at the Flying Dog Brewpub, had a now-iconic “Doggie-Style” Pale Ale, immediately swore off drinking any more pretender beers, and dedicated himself to his newfound calling. Brewmaster status took years. Although, taking it all into consideration, Pete has been continuously providing a kind of life support over his 20 years of brewing.
We like to be guided through our Haymarket experience by Danielle, whose good cheer, easy smile, cool ink, and knowledgeable recommendations make us love her. We particularly like the house-brewed IPA’s, which include two that we find particularly toothsome: the Angry Birds or “black out juice” as the owners refer to it, is an American-Belge IPA. For more of a kick, the Mathias I.P.A. (Pete’s favorite) named in recognition of one of the first to lose their lives in the Haymarket Affair. This is a knock-out, full-bodied Imperial American IPA (10% alc). If for any reason Haymarket’s crafts don’t sooth, there’re plenty of other beers by others available on the menu, but why would you choose from others when Haymarket’s are so good and fresh? Seems quasi-criminal to us, even though these alternatives are of the highest and best quality. For customers who require gluten-free, there are options available.
Burger Statement: Damn good. We can’t seriously recommend a good pub unless it offers a superior burger. It’s what our lawyer calls a “condition precedent”. If the burger isn’t up to snuff, then the rest of the menu and the experience is automatically tossed into the dustbin of history. Ironically, Haymarket has the burger, the beer and the history, so we expand our menu experience and are pleased in all respects. The Faroe Island Scottish Salmon is elevated to the sublime by its pairing with charred Brussels sprouts. The veggie burger and vegan chili are not pandering entrees; they are inspired by the owners’ wives and so designed to please. Everything is made in-house. All damn good stuff.
Another Mathias and we’re completely content. We even absorb some Chicago history…though there’s little space left after the food and beer.