Glunz Tavern rises from its Prohibited past

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In lieu of poorly lit spaetzle, please accept this poorly lit stained glass
  • Mike Sula
  • In lieu of poorly lit spaetzle, please accept this poorly lit stained glass
With the ongoing blitzkrieg of neu-Germanic food this year, I wonder if the Berghoff family regrets shutting down its touristy historic namesake restaurant back in 2006. They could always resurrect it, I suppose, but that would be difficult, given most of its interior has been scattered to the winds. Some tables and chairs, for instance, have found their way into Old Town's Glunz Tavern, which reopened in December just in time to ride the lightning after a hiatus of 80-some years.

In 1888 the old booze-distributing family operated a tavern next door to its Old Town wine shop, but the space was mostly used for storage after Prohibition. In late December Barbara Glunz and her son Christopher Donovan spiffed the place up with a combination of family heirlooms and fixtures from other dead establishments—the bar, for example, comes from the Ambassador East. It's a cool space, full of old-timey, boozy paraphernalia on the walls, and will serve its neighbors well if only because there's really no proper barstaurant in the immediate vicinity.

There's a broad a selection of spirits, wines, and beers, as you might expect, but they're marked up at varying levels of acceptability. It's absurd to pay $15 for a pour of Templeton Rye, yet a glass of the simple but elegant Bordeaux Cuvee Nicolas Barreyre will run you a reasonable $9. But they've done better than that. They've also brought in consulting chef Alan Sternweiler of the Butcher & the Burger, who developed a largely German menu with things like wiener schnitzel, sausages and kraut, and apple strudel, along with more typical American bar food and French bistro nourriture like deviled eggs, a burger, a fillet, buttered frogs' legs, and sweetbreads and snails. It's a thoughtful selection that marries tradition with contemporary expectations, epitomized in a sort of German mac 'n' cheese, or "späetzle uberbacken," a cast- iron crock full of gooey, stretchy Gruyere larded with bits of Black Forest ham, stretched over ruddy pasta.

Glunz Tavern, 1206 N. Wells, 312-642-3000, glunztavern.com

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