For beer aficionados, it's always fun to visit a microbrewery like Emmett's Ale House in Downers Grove. You can try a few fresh beers, take a look at the tanks where they're brewed and soak up the laid-back atmosphere.
The downtown pub has a slender dining area with a long bar and plenty of high-top tables for small groups. As at many suburban watering holes, you'll find a jumble of young and old patrons, with a few regulars settled in at the bar. During our visit, the initial background music was questionable, with a string of campy adult contemporary tunes. But a beer later, things turned around with the Talking Heads and David Bowie, artists that seemed a little more fitting for this type of establishment.
The English-style 1 A.M. Ale and the hoppy Victory Pale Ale are safe bets, but there are several other handcrafted varieties on tap (pints are $4.25, pitchers are $10). For the curious and indecisive drinker, a "sampler paddle" offers a taste of several of Emmett's beers. The pub also offers some select brews from around the country, available only in bottles.
If you're looking to soak up some of that alcohol, the menu features appetizers, pizzas and sandwiches ($8-$12) and seafood and steaks ($15-$25). Unlike many drinking establishments, Emmett's caters to the suburban family man by offering a children's menu and a family night (kids 10 and under eat free on Sundays). That should be good enough to convince the wife that itís worth going out to watch the Bears' game. As if the beers weren't enough in the first place.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jim Collins