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Mystery Diner: Good beer, great food at Onion Pub

Published: Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 5:51 p.m. CST
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The Onion Pub in Lake Barrington is a great place to go for a meal and a pint.
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The sausage sampler features knockwurst, Thüringer and Polish sausage on a bed of sauerkraut. The side of Dusseldorf mustard is a perfect match.
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The Jack Stout marinated steak is served with chimichurri sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli.
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The pecan pie at Onion Pub.
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A fanciful mural adorns an exterior wall at Onion Pub.
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The dining areas at Onion Pub and Brewery feature high ceilings and lots of wood.
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The bruschetta chicken breast entree is featured on the gluten-free menu.
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The carrot cake at Onion Pub.
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Onion Pub serves beers from their Wild Onion Brews line. Pictured is the Kainz Brau, described as a "classic Czech-style pilsener."

LAKE BARRINGTON – If you've pondered visiting the Onion Pub and Brewery, but you weren't sure if it was worth your while to make your way to Lake Barrington, wonder no more.

It's more than worth it.

I stopped by on a recent evening with a dining companion shortly after some turbulent weather had passed through. Approaching the front door of the Onion Pub, the suddenly calm skies with only wisps of clouds remaining provided a great contrast for the deep, reddish wood of the building and the vibrant green vines that have grown over many surfaces. It felt a little bit like traveling back in time to an Old English pub.

The interior manages to emulate that rustic charm while still providing a hint of the modern – for instance, the high ceilings and clear lighting make it a great place for a group to gather. An outdoor patio out back overlooks a pleasant little body of water.

Fearing the return of the earlier storms, we chose to eat inside. Given that Onion Pub brews its own beer under the Wild Onion Brews banner, my first order of business was selecting a pint. I went for the Kainz Bräu, which the menu describes as "a classic Czech-style Pilsner." I'm far from an expert on all the varieties of beer out there, but I know that the Kainz was crisp and tasty.

For the purposes of this review, I wanted to make sure to order something I wouldn't necessarily get anywhere else, so the grilled sausage sampler was our appetizer choice. It includes a knockwurst, a Thüringer and their HopSlayer Polish on a bed of sauerkraut, accompanied by Dusseldorf mustard. The three each had unique, pleasant flavors, one a bit spicier than the other two (though I wasn't sure which was which). The mustard really added something, complementing the flavors of the sausages without overwhelming.

For entrees, I opted for the Jack Stout marinated steak, and my companion chose the bruschetta chicken breast. Since I didn't order a Jack Stout, I couldn't say how much of its flavor permeated the tender cut of meat that I was served, but I can say it was plenty tasty. The accompanying garlic potatoes and broccoli were very good, too, far from overwhelmed by the main course.

My companion was just as pleased by the chicken, which was topped with mozzarella cheese and a diced onion and tomato mix. I also sampled a bit of the rice dish that accompanied it and found it to be quite good.

We ordered desserts knowing we'd be likely to taking them home with us as our consumption limit was fast approaching. Generally you can't go wrong with pecan pie and carrot cake, and that was certainly the case here.

If you're interested in sampling some of the Wild Onion Brews options, they're available all over the Chicago area; a map is available on their website. But for the full experience, I'd certainly recommend a trip to the pub to make sure it's paired with exactly the right food.

The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.

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Onion Pub & Brewery

Where: 22221 N. Pepper Road, Lake Barrington

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.

Dress code: Casual

Info: 847-381-7308 or pub.onionbrewery.com

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