Hofbrauhaus Chicago, which is inconviniently located in Rosemont (not even Chicago), is a German style beer hall complete with huge sausages and ass paddling… Sounds like a perfect place to go to dinner for my Father-In-Law’s birthday.
Rosemont Illinois is fast becoming the place to be for tourists and locals alike. With restaurants like Hofbrauhaus, Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar, a Casino, and a fashion outlet mall, this seemingly random part of town is now booming with life… and it’s annoying as hell. The fashion outlet mall just recently opened and is drawing in all sorts of people with no common sense and even less driving ability. The parking lot/parking garages are an absolutely nightmare and the whole complex itself seems like it was designed by a blind person on acid. Once you finally get your car into a parking spot, or pay to valet like we did because I’m too impatient to wait in a line of cars 30 deep for a parking spot, you can finally start to enjoy the area… which actually isn’t that bad.
Hofbrauhouse is situated in a “town square”-type area that features a handful of restaurants and bars, along with a Zanies comedy club and a Muvico movie theater. The center of the “square” features an astro turf park, I guess, where you can throw frisbees or something, I don’t know, it looked dumb and pointless. I did overhear someone say that in the winter they freeze it and you can ice skate, but I’d rather take my chance on a frozen lake than fight the parking again. Everything is contained in that little area, which is nice, but it makes for a ridiculously packed area with tons of people. Combine that with the poor design of the roads in the area and someone is definitely going to get run over.
Hofbrauhaus Food / Atmosphere
Enough about the area surrounding Hofbrauhaus, let’s talk about the restaurant itself. Taking it’s cues from the original beer halls of Germany, Hofbrauhaus tries to recreate that feeling in the suburbs of Chicago. The restaurant/brewery itself is probably the largest restaurant I’ve ever seen. It’s a huge, open room, filled with long tables that can seat anywhere from 8 to probably 40-50. There were 6 people in our party, so we ended up at a table by ourselves, but be prepared to make friends if you don’t end up at your own table. A live band keeps the energy in the place up with their huge library of songs, German chants,games and ability to get the entire restaurant standing on their chairs while dancing, all while the beer flows like wine. And speaking of the beer, Hofbrauhaus is it’s own brewery that offers 4 different types of beer plus a seasonal, which they didn’t have when we were there. The beers come in sizes ranging from 10 oz. up to 37 oz. and there might actually be a larger one that comes in “Das Boot”, but it wasn’t on the menu. I had the light beer, and while it’s not quite as “light” as the piss-water that is Bud Light and Miller Light (which I actually don’t mind, since I don’t really like beer), it was pretty good and I think people that actually enjoy beer will like their overall selection.
When it came to the food I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about what I was going to order. I love me some bratwurst, but when I say that, I mean I love the Johnsonville brats you can buy at the grocery store. I’ve never been exposed to an actual German bratwurst. So with that in mind I decided to go with what I thought would be the safest sausage on the menu, the HB Riesenbratwurst, which is a pork sausage on a kaiser roll. Did I mention that the thing was about a foot and a half long, and super thin? Not really what I had in mind when I was thinking bratwurst, but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying it.
It actually tasted pretty close to a Johnsonville brat, but it was definitely a little spicier than I thought it was going to be. I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but this was tolerable. I devoured the entire thing and even ate all my fries, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me. I don’t know if there was something in the air or if all the excitement from the paddling going on behind us fueled my appetite…. although I’m not sure why a waitress slapping a bunch of dudes’ asses with a paddle would make me hungry, but I’m just gonna go with it as it’s a nice segue into the paddling portion of the article. But before I get into that part, let’s finish up with the food. Celeste got the Gebackenes Fisch Filet, which is 3 pieces of tilapia, which she seemed to enjoy. Car got the Schnitzel Wiener Art which was way too much for her to finish. And I can’t remember exactly what Brian god, but it had a huge bone in it… and a couple different types of potatoes.
So now that the food stuff is out of the way, let’s talk paddling… yup, that’s right, paddling. If you order a shot of any kind, the waitress will make you take the shot, then bend over the table as she winds up 3 times and then smacks you on the ass with a paddle. And we’re not talking about light taps here either, this waitress was winding up full strength and hitting these guys as hard as she could. It was so hard I’m pretty sure I saw a tear roll down one of the guys cheeks. And then when a girl takes a shot, they bring over a waiter to do the paddling… and he wasn’t gentle either.
So that should give you a pretty good idea of the atmosphere of this place. The food was generally pretty good, just don’t expect quick service as there are so many people and the servers seem spread pretty thin. I don’t know if they are just inheriting the slower pace of the German’s or what, but it took a long time for us to even get our pretzel appetizer, so just be warned. Do not go here if you’re in a hurry.
Bottom line is, I won’t go back to this area of Rosemont for a while, or at least until the fashion outlet mall loses it’s initial appeal. It’s seriously a nightmare trying to get in and out of the area, and totally not worth it to me. It’s a nice area, but the crowds and parking congestion just ruins the whole experience for me.[photos courtesy of Hofbrauhaus Facebook Page]