Last Thursday I had the privilege of attending a special media event at Chicago’s historic and famous landmark, The Berghoff in The Loop.
The Berghoff is getting ready to kick off its 29th annual Oktoberfest celebration beginning with a special outdoor celebration at its location on the corner of Adams and Dearborn, from September 10-12th from 11am-9pm. Since 1985, The Berghoff Oktoberfest is the longest-running Oktoberfest celebration in Chicago. Admission is FREE. There will be live bands, a raffle which benefits Mercy Home For Boys & Girls, as well as, beer, brats and other menu items for purchase.
Media and some of my fellow Chicago Food Blogger members were treated to a private, “sneak peak” 5-course “beer & bites” pairing menu held in the historic Century Room. I hopped the CTA Green Line to the Adams/Wabash ‘L’ stop and walked the 2 blocks over to the restaurant which is located along historic Route 66, just mere steps from Chicago’s Art Institute, Millenium Park, Grant Park and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra all of which are located on Michigan Avenue.
The tasty treats were as follows:
- Pretzel with beer cheese sauce and a BERGHOFF HOPFENSTOMPER HOP-FEST Lager – I enjoyed this pairing very much. And, honestly, the only thing better than beer and cheese is beer cheese!
- Bratwurst and BERGHOFF OKTOBERFEST – This was my favorite brew and the one which was officially being tapped later that evening in the bar. It is malty with caramel notes which I love. I will be back for more 😉
- Quinoa & grilled vegetable salad and BERGHOFF Lager
- Pork stew (gluten-free) and OMISSION (a gluten-free beer)
- Apple strudel and BERGHOFF SHAMBLER – This beer was smoothe, creamy and a bit spicy. It complimented the flavors of the strudel nicely.
In addition to sampling the above-referenced food and beer pairings, we were greeted by Carlyn Berghoff, the great, great grand-daughter of Herman Berghoff (founder) and the current CEO of The Berghoff Catering and Restaurant. We also received some great history lessons from our delightful host, Tim Lucas, a Sales Manager at Berghoff Brewery and who worked previously at the restaurant.
The Berghoff made its debut at the 1893 World’s Fair and opened its doors a few years later on Adams Street in 1898. After Prohibition ended in 1933, it was granted Chicago’s 1st liquor license. I believe Oscar Mayer (yes, THAT Oscar Mayer) helped Herman Berghoff secure the license. The original liquor license is locked up in a vault but the accompanying stickers are proudly displayed on one of the restaurant walls. This place was a men’s-only saloon until segregation ended in 1969.
Most of the murals that adorn the walls in The Century Room and throughout the rest of the restaurant are from the 1930s. The wood work behind the bar is very impressive and beautiful. Actually, The Berghoff offers a “Taste and Tour Series” during which you can learn more about the restaurant and the building’s history.
After our tasty and educational “beer & bites” tasting, I wandered into the front bar area where Carlyn Berghoff and Tim Lucas officially tapped the BERGHOFF OKTOBERFEST beer for the other patrons of the restaurant. Everyone was offered a generous taste of it and we raised our cups while proclaiming a hearty PROST! to each other. I lingered a while longer to chat with some very friendly regulars of The Berghoff who work in the neighborhood.
Whether you are a Chicago resident or plan on visiting Chicago, I strongly recommend that you stop into The Berghoff, as it is truly one of Chicago’s most beloved treasures. I wonder how often it gets overlooked as it sits in the bustling, business area of The Loop. But, as I mentioned earlier, it is also conveniently steps from other fun Michigan Avenue attractions. So, it is a great place to grab a bite to eat, have a beer or other libation and soak up some very important Chicago history!
The Berghoff will continue to celebrate Oktoberfest inside the restaurant through October 31st with a special menu.
The Berghoff is located at 17 West Adams St. in Chicago’s Loop. For more information, visit www.theberghoff.com.
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Green, Brown or Orange Line over to The Berghoff. Save on gas. Avoid traffic, parking and road rage. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!