Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Ratings: 86 | Reviews: 66 | Display Reviews Only:
4/5 rDev +3.6%
Long overdue, my thrice postponed work stint is finally scheduled for a few days in Chicago. After dinner at Giordano's, everyone's heading back to the hotel, everyone 'cept me, that is. Yeah, and Shelley. She knows what's up, she's seen this show in Houston so she's coming too. I've got the area all mapped out on this little map I drew, of the places, with the beer, so we do the 4 blocks walk to Clark Street to find them closed for a private party, so beaten but not defeated, we opt for that Rock Bottom halfway back to the...
Nicely spacious room with an "L" shaped wood bar seating a dozen. A dozen tables are housed in an elevated seating area along the large front windows looking out over West Grand Avenue, with another 6 below that in a center area, another 6 beyond that adjacent to the bar, and another 6 along the far wall heading back towards the rear room amongst a few bar counters.
The far wall running the length of the room is all brick as are the columns throughout the room, otherwise it's wood lowers and beige uppers, and spot lighting overhead. A big screen and TV's everywhere. Behind the bar is a room with a row of 30 BBL fermenters visible behind glass.
I opted for the sampler, which gives you all 8 beers (Light, Gold, Wit, Red, Brown, Porter, Schwartz, Belgian Strong Ale). The Wit, which was their "wheat beer in rotation", was my favorite of the lot of 'em, nicely sweet, corriander and orange. I also enjoyed the Brown Ale, deeply chocolatey and rich, all Willamette hopped.
The Shwartz was bitter, and kind of plain, the Porter was Dry Irish Stoutlike, and the Red was well dryhopped. As to the Belgian Strong Ale... at 12%, well, all I've got to say is "sweet warming alcohol!!!"
How long do you think it took me to ask about the conspicuous hand pump? It's been dead for a year. I hung my head low and wept silently. Well, I would've if Shelley weren't with me. They've got these really cool red metal racks for delivering samplers. They look like the heads of metal rakes with curvatures for holding and lifting multiple glasses at once.
Throughout and about...
There's a spacious back room, with 4 pool tables, a half dozen bar tables, and Phil's golf game.
A side dining room holds a dozen booths and 2 dozen tables, mostly hugging the walls along the 2-front windows hugging this corner room. A handful of mashers lie behind glass here as well.
And upstairs, there's a rooftop beer garden I would've liked to have seen, although that wasn't happening this January evening.
Beers were solid overall and service was pleasant and attentative.
02-06-2005 17:34:23 | More by slander
4.05/5 rDev +4.9%
Stopped here tonight for the purpose of trying some barrel-aged offerings, which there will be a series of 8 released starting Nov. 2007. A dry-hopped stout, winter warmer, and oatmeal stout were all pouring. These aren't available in growlers, so we decided to stop in for a beer. Had a new barrel-aged oatmeal stout ($6), and took home a growler of the 12th anniversary IPA ($8.75).
Service and atmosphere are much better at the bar than in the restaurant. If you're visiting from out of town and write the place off after one visit, you're missing out. The seasonals and one-offs are impressive and consistently good.
The atmosphere is better than a TGI Friday's but not by much. Lots of staff dashing about, herding busloads of tourists and after-work groups. Daytime is a better atmosphere, more relaxed anyway. During the summer months, the rooftop garden is a nice option with a limited menu. The brew kettles are prominent right up front, on the left when you walk in. Bar is generally louder and slightly smoky, again daytime is not so bad.
The beers i've tried on various visits have all been fresh and of high-quality. Erik the Red, BA Coffee Porter last year, Saison, Hefe...all good. Usually a great seasonal offering.
Food is alright, not my favorite. Some tex-mex, bbq, southern salads, pizza, all things to all (American) people. Quality wise it's passable. Check it out if you're staying downtown, the beer is way above average for this chain.
11-07-2007 03:29:08 | More by emerge077
3.55/5 rDev -8%
A very nice brewpub that gets alot of crap because it's part of a chain. However, Rock Bottom is a very well run chain - probably the best in the country right now. The food is good, the service is good, and the beers are good - even if somewhat limited. But some of the specialty brews are great. The only thing that brings this location down for beer guys is that it get's alot of tourist traffic and it's overly crowded at the bar on weekends. If you're in this part of town during the day, check it out!
07-18-2002 18:08:31 | More by NeroFiddled
3.33/5 rDev -13.7%
I was staying at the Embassy Suites down the street so this place was the nearest beerworthy joint. Went there on two occasion and although I was please with the overall experience, I wasnt really expecting much from this chain. I will say this was my best experience of the chain.
Went on Friday night and it was slammed with thirtysomethings so service was really bad. Ordered a Belgian Wit and received a pale ale. It thought it would be okay when the server said "This one is on us". Whenever I got the bill, there was the wrong beer on there. I knew if I disputed it would take 30 minutes so I accepted the beer anyway (my wife drank it). Went on Saturday afternoon for a LATE lunch (like 2pm) and service was still pretty lame although the joint was pretty empty.
Beers were actually pretty good. I had the American Stout, the pale ale, the Belgian Wit, a 13 anniversary ale, and a HopFunWeizen (american wheat) and all were enjoyable with the stout being my favorite.
Chose a mushroom swiss burger that was pretty good. Fries were kind of old and cold and chewy due to the late lunch.
Pricey beers but I guess that is Chicago. Most were in the $5-$6 range, which was typical of all of Chicago. Went twice so I enjoyed it!
12-15-2008 20:35:21 | More by SaCkErZ9
4/5 rDev +3.6%
much much better than the Charlotte location
i imagine this place is usually full of tourists due to its location in the magnificent mile district. It was definately a good night to be a 23 year old male though since there was plenty of 20 something females in the room. The place was absolutely packed and was a bit trendy for a brewpub.
i liked the fact that they have rotating stouts and wheats. they had the oatmeal stout when i was there and it was pretty good. they also had a specialty IPA on tap. It seemed like they have a rotating stock of specialty brews as well.
service was good, especially due to the packed house.
we hit this place up after a long day at the intonation music festival at Union park and were quite hungry. Maybe it was the conditions but I thought my burger was phenomenal. I forget the name of it but it had 3 types of shrooms with swiss/cheddar melted, and that baby was huge.
seems like a solid place to grab a bite and have a few beers but unless you want to deal with the crowds, I would go early.
07-19-2005 20:14:23 | More by dirtylou
3.76/5 rDev -2.6%
Stopped in for a couple of pints with a colleague after dinner (up the street in old town).
Very large bar area and very crowded for 9:30 on a Tuesday night.
They had about 8 beers on tap but no hoppy IPA which is what I'm after.
I had a red that was described as aggressively hopped with centennial and I think cascade but I didn't pick up much of it in the beer. Also had a Chicago gold that was a pale ale in the pac nw style and was a pretty good session beer. Ended with the smoked juniper porter which was nice and would have been much better served on a beer engine.
Good location to grab a beer right off the Mag Mile. There's also a Binney's right around the corner.
05-13-2009 17:43:58 | More by Yetiman420
4.08/5 rDev +5.7%
My company had an outing here. I'm glad the planer is a beer fan!.
Nice large space, plenty of room to stretch out. Nice lively crowd adds to the fun.
My bartender was very good. He was able to tell me about all the beers and did not get tired of my questions.
I liked the food. We were served from a buffet, but the food was tasty. Nice appetizers as well.
I had not been in a Rock Bottom for about 5 years and I was surprised about how much the beer has improved. I liked the Wheat & the red, but the IPA was the best in class. Unfortunately, they did not have a stout or porter available that evening.
This is well worth a stop if you find yourself downtown. Very enjoyable indeed!
01-15-2004 19:09:47 | More by Redrover
4.13/5 rDev +7%
I've been to a couple Rock Bottom Brewpubs. I am never thrilled to go to one but I always like my visit. As this Rock Bottom was literally two blocks from our hotel we stopped here for dinner.
At 8pm on a Saturday night it was loud and busy. We found a seat near the bar in moments and had great service throughout even though it was busy.
The first thing that jumped off the food menu was the large pretzels for an appetizer and beef tips for dinner. I don't even recall what else was on the menu. I was hungry and those sounded good. My better half got steak and she liked it. The food was very good. As expected.
For beer, we tried the seasonal IPA (tasty... hoppy, not too bitter), Stout (robust roasted flavors), Unfiltered Pale Ale (decent) and a Barleywine which I really liked. If wasn't so tired (I had drove straight from Omaha) I would have had a couple of these.
I didn't really checkout the building; the dinner area seemed to be separate from the bar. The bar area was dark, lots of wood and their beer signs. Lots of tables and booths, plenty of seating... it looked like a fairly big place. There was even seating upstairs (but that was closed on our visit). The bathrooms were upstairs as well. The TVs had a Cubs rerun on plus some random-ass "X Games" type thing. That was really my only complaint, put on some live sports!!
Our waitress, Jen, was awesome... attentive and knowledgeable about their beer.
Rock Bottom, during our visit, was the right place at the right time. Good food and good beer... yes, it was loud and busy but it was downtown Chicago on a Saturday. What else should I have expected?
Worth a visit.
08-07-2008 16:36:14 | More by bditty187
3.05/5 rDev -21%
Rock Bottom is in the near north side which means that is it is located very close to all the shopping trendy parts that tourist love to hit part of town. Take a cab or expect to valet part cause you won't find a parking spot unless you are a local and you now the secret prime locations. When you get into RB they have your typical sports bar/ brewpub schlock on the walls like "olde time" beer signs and giant TVs play any sports that are on at that time.
They usually have the standard 4-5 beers on tap with 1 seasonal and they are all are within style guidelines but still appeal to the masses. If I'm in the area I usually stop in for the seasonal but I don't go out of my way for the usual suspects.
They wait staff is used to dealing with high volume so they are really good at getting what you need and moving on. They always seem nice but they never stay around to answer questions.
The food is typical pub grub and if also appeals to the masses so you are pretty safe with anything you order.
It is a fun place to go if a company has rented out the private rooms and they foot the bill but with so many choices in Chicago it is not one of my typical hangouts.
03-24-2005 02:54:29 | More by rhoadsrage
3.08/5 rDev -20.2%
This brewery is located smack dab in the middle of downtown Chicago. Being such its always busy which sucks and forever has has annoying construction around making it tough to get in and out.
The atmosphere is nothing special, its a a regular busy restaurant with a couple tvs throughout. Its too busy and cramped for me.
The quality is ok, they have decent beers of their own making. However, the quality and selection of guest beers is severely lacking.
The service is ok. They are not beer people, but nice enough. Cannot offer you good suggestions.
The selection is pretty weak, usually only 5-6 of their brews and not much of a choice of anything else.
The food bar food, and average at that. For the restaurant it is, it should be a lot better.
12-27-2009 01:55:59 | More by jrallen34
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Chicago, IL
87 out of 100 based on 86 ratings.