The Hofbrauhaus in Munich may be one of the most famous - if not THE most famous - beer hall/restaurants/breweries in the world. Hoping to capitalize on the success of the first Hofbrauhaus-franchised brauhaus in Hong Kong, an American franchise office opened in Frankenmuth, MI in 1997 with the first American Hofbrauhaus opening six years later in Newport, KY, just across the river from Cincinnati. In 2012, a large 20,000 square foot Hofbrauhaus opened in Rosemont's MB Financial Park entertainment district in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, near O'Hare Airport. I had lunch at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago in Rosemont on a recent visit to the area.
Now, I had tried to go to the Hofbrauhaus Chicago in Rosemont three times before. The first time I was with my colleague John after we had been setting up for a trade show at a nearby hotel. It was late, we were tired, we were burned out from setting up a sound system and wanted a nice meal and some peace and quiet. You don't get peace and quiet at night at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago, which is billed as the only brewpub/restaurant/beer hall/beer garden in the Chicago area. They have live music each night in the beer hall and that particular night it was LOUD!!! We ended up going some place else.
Two other times I tried to go, once the power was out at the place and it was closed, the other time the entrance was so packed with people waiting to get a seat that I decided to bag that opportunity. This time, I had a couple of appointments in the morning and had a chance to stop for lunch at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago since it was close to my hotel in Rosemont.
I was able to get right in on this visit as it was past the noon lunch rush and well before any of the nighttime festivities would start. The large beer hall had only a handful of people eating in the place when I first got there. The beer hall at Hofbrauhaus Chicago is an exact replica of the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich down to the murals on the ceiling and the large tables for communal seating.
I ended up taking a seat at the bar along the south side of the beer hall. Behind the windows behind the back bar, large beer kettles were present. The Hofbrau Beers served at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago are made with the original recipe handed down over 400 years ago by Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria. Ben Zollenkopf, a native of Bavaria and who was the technical director for international brewing at Hofbrauhaus in Munich, oversees the brewing process at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago.
The waitstaff are dressed in traditional costumes and a couple young ladies were working behind the bar that particular day. One of them came over to greet me, dropped off a menu and took my beer order. I got a big-assed mug of the Hofbrau original lager.
The lunch menu is a truncated version of the dinner menu served at Hofbrauhaus Chicago. It features German specialties including sausage platters, weinerschnitzel, and Bavarian-style goulash. They also have burgers - including a German-style burger mixed with ground pork and ground beef - and sandwiches that include a Bavarian-style bratwurst, a chicken schnitzel sandwich, and a Braten Semmel - a roast pork sandwich served on a toasted pretzel bun.
This time, I went with the jagerschnitzel - a pork cutlet that was topped with a mushroom gravy, along with a couple strips of bacon and crispy fried onions, served with spätzle and cranberries. And it was good - the jagerschnitzel was tender and savory. The mushroom gravy had a delicious taste to it. The onion straws and bacon that sat on top of the jagerschnitzel were a great touch to the overall taste of the meal. And mixed with the mushroom sauce, the spätzle was a great side dish with the jagerschnitzel.
While the food at Hofbrauhaus Chicago probably wasn't the best German food I've had, I found it to be very good for what it was. I've always like Hofbrau beer and the house-brewed beer was every bit as good as the original Hofbrau lager I've had in the past. I'm glad I finally made it in to try their food and see what the place was all about. At night, I would probably say that the Hofbrauhaus Chicago would be a great place to go with a group of friends. In the daytime, that's when it would be a good place for a business lunch or for a quick bite after going shopping in the area. Either way, you're probably not going to be disappointed in the food or beer.