emerge077 (103) RIP Johnnies, Chicago, Illinois | September 13, 2013
68 AMBIANCE 3/5 SERVICE 8/10 SELECTION 8/15 FOOD 6/10 VALUE 8/10 OVERALL 15/20
120 Depot St. has been on my radar for years, ever since reading about Gardner Haus Inn in "The Beer Loverís Guide to the USA" published in 2000. (The original old German bierstube at this location closed in 2003). Years ago iíd driven though town looking for it and sadly nothing was there, today I learned itís been Vinoís for about 6 years now.
From the outside, thereís a Rust Belt view to the north of an abandoned rusting granary along the train tracks. Next door thereís a dive bar and a camping gear store. The facade is weathered stucco and wood, Tudor Revival-style remnants of the old bierstube. Inside itís wood paneled with beer signs and bric-a-brac, like any small-town townie bar. Dimly lit with a little daylight coming in the front windows. Diamond-paned stained glass and wood beams, more remnants of itís former life. Formica and angled wood bar. I noticed an adjacent dining room though a pair of swinging stained glass doors, with long tables reminiscent of the old bierhalle.
Several taps behind the bar, apparently a keg cooler had recently crapped out, and about 8 taps were missing as a result. Taps were SA Oktoberfest, Goose Harvest, Miller Lite, Hoegaarden, Grayís Rock Hard Red (a malternative), and one other.
Selection highlights: Revolution Anti-Hero and Eugene cans (hiding in the cooler, not on the displayed beer shelves), Summit bottles x5, Goose IPA bottles and Harvest Ale on tap, a few German bottles like Konig Ludwig, Warsteiner Dunkel, Bitburger, Schofferhoffer, and Hacker-Pschorr on tap (though currently out). Much of the selection consisted of full lines from a few mediocre breweries like Point, Magic Hat, Sam Adams, New Holland, Shiner, Leinies, and a few dozen macros. More quantity than quality, but there were maybe 20 good beers to choose from.
Service was quick and friendly, our bartender was chatty and helped navigate the beer selection based on style preferences. They didnít have a printed list or prices. Tavern style pizza was hot and crispy, the rest of the menu seemed like the usual pub grub.
Overall a nice oasis in an unlikely place. Worth a detour off I-55 if passing by.