Normally we reserve Sunday nights for family dinner but made an exception and took the kids and met up with friends at this new brewery in Sobro (it’s on the Monon behind Good Morning Mama’s). This place is in an absolutely gigantic building with somewhat sparse, industrial décor. The menu consists of mostly sandwiches with a few appetizers, soups, and salads. To start we ordered 2 pretzel baskets ($5), chips and guacamole ($5), and pickled eggs ($5). I’ve never had just plain pickled eggs before (I’ve had them when they’re served as a garnish) so I was interested to try them.
The pretzel was good—I mean it is a soft, ballpark whole pretzel—nicely done, warm and just the right amount of chewy. But what I really appreciated about the pretzel was the warm beer cheese to dip the pretzel into. It appeared to be homemade and it was nice to have something different than the typical neon orange nacho cheese. They also served it with grainy mustard if that’s your preference (we had one of each because we ordered two pretzels, but I would highly recommend the cheese. The mustard was fine, but didn’t stand out like the cheese, although a bit of both was nice).
The chips and guac were also good. The guac was very chunky and pretty straightforward taste-wise. Not a lot of spicy flavor, but not bad. The chips were kind of usual store bought chips, but a nice easy thing to share with a bunch of people.
The pickled eggs (with various other veg as well) were interesting. They are obviously making an effort to do something different here—and they use a lot of different kinds of pickles throughout the menu, so I guess it make sense to offer an app as well. It was a nice variation with all the other flavors, but overall I preferred the other apps. And I preferred the pickled veg to the eggs because something about the pickling application that made the eggs seem kind of dried out.
The menu here consists mainly of sandwiches, and we ended up trying a lot of them. My personal favorite was the pork belly Cuban ($12). It consisted of braised pork belly Carolina BBQ, pickles, city ham, mustard and Swiss cheese. There was also a swipe of garlic aioli. It was pressed flat in a Panini press, making it easier to eat than some of the other sandwiches, which were pretty large. There were a lot of varying flavors and textures, which is one of my favorite things about a Cuban anyway. The pork was very tender and I love the tangy/acid hit from the pickles, aioli and even the Carolina BBQ.
I also liked my son’s pimento cheese and city ham sandwich ($9.50). I probably would have liked it better with all the stuff on it that he had on the side (the pickles and grainy mustard). It’s a good combo for sure, even though I may have preferred the ham to be sliced a little thinner. It ended up a little chewy because it was so thickly cut.
Hubby’s pork belly banh mi ($12) was also good—but man, the jalapeno peppers on it for some reason were just scorching hot. He’s normally a person who likes spicy things, but had to pick most of them off to enjoy the sandwich, which also was stuffed with cured pork belly, Smoking Goose kitchen sink sausage, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro and garlic aioli. It was on a soft bun. I really like the pickled, slightly sweet flavors of the daikon/carrot mixture on a banh mi, and this one was a good one.
I didn’t care for the lamb terrine sandwich ($13) as much –it had lamb terrine, lamb bacon, whipped goat cheese, rosemary tomato jam and arugula and was served on marble rye. It just had an overly sweet flavor for me between the jam and the goat cheese. Others at the table really enjoyed it though, so different strokes…
Also good, but over the top in the spicy arena was “our favorite panini” ($9.50). There was a lot going on with this one—lots of house cured meats, housemade pickles, marinated hot peppers, cambozola cheese and garlic aioli. It was also pressed flat in a Panini press. These peppers—wow. They were hot. Again, you had to pick some of it off just to be able to eat it. But if you like really spicy sandwiches, this might be perfect for you and I liked the blue cheese kick from the cambozola.
My daughter ordered the pulled pork sandwich without anything on it but pork and said it was too spicy for her so didn’t eat much of it. I didn’t get around to trying it but hubby said that when all the parts were put together (the meat with the apple cabbage slaw, pickles and mustard aioli) it would probably taste good, more balanced and not as spicy.
I love that all their desserts are from 4 Birds bakery—I can still get my cookie fix even though H2O has closed. I was a little sad they didn’t have the original cookie (a maple oatmeal) the day I was there, but enjoyed the peanut butter/chocolate chip one ($3) that I shared with our friends. The kids absolutely loved the brownies ($3) and want to go back just for them. It would be a little more of a full dessert-type experience though if they heated the cookies and maybe served them with some ice cream or something. As it is, you just get the cookie and that’s it. But I do appreciate that they have them, because I really love them.
All in all, it’s a good place to get a sandwich that will pair well with beer (they will be brewing their own soon, but for now offer a sampling of different local beers). They do also serve a few types of wine, just FYI (and which I appreciate). Although they tout themselves as family friendly (and they were extremely tolerant of the children on the whole), I wouldn’t say it is a place that has a really kid-friendly menu, especially if you have a picky eater (one of the kids with us was). They have PB&J, almond butter and jelly, and a grilled cheese to offer kids. (They do have shuffle board and an old-school Pac Man machine, both of which the kids loved.) The other sandwiches have a lot of strong flavors going on. They certainly do appeal to me though and I appreciate the creativity of them. Don’t go here looking for anything light though---the sandwiches are pretty meat heavy.
Bent Rail Brewery
5301 Winthrop Ave