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The beer, bacon, and sausage emporium Kaiser Tiger is not as refined or as interesting as its Randolph Row neighbors. And it’s definitely not as popular, at least judging from the number of empty seats on a recent Friday night.
However, those seats—in the cavernous indoor space, on the oversized sidewalk, and lining the picnic tables on the back patio—will change Kaiser Tiger’s game this weekend. Seats plus sizable craft beer list plus proximity to Union Park make for the perfect pre- or post-Pitchfork Music Festival pit stop.
The restaurant is mere steps from Pitchfork’s (much preferable) back entrance, near Randolph and Ogden; it’s so close you might even be able to hear whoever’s playing on the festival’s Green Stage. In fact, if you didn’t score a Saturday ticket (they’re sold out) Kaiser Tiger’s sidewalk or patio would make for a pretty decent plan B; the Reader recommends four of the five bands playing the Green Stage that day.
As for the food, the Beer & Bacon—a bacon-wrapped sausage composed of beef, pork, and Lagunitas IPA—had a nice snap and a fair hint of hops, and the bacon retained a surprising amount of its texture. But I probably wouldn’t recommend it over the Chubby Wiener that can be had for less than half the price on the festival grounds. Perhaps I’d feel differently if the pretzel bun on which the Beer & Bacon is served hadn’t been the same temperature as my New Holland Incorrigible. The sour ale is among nearly 30 draft offerings, which is a good enough reason to hang out here, festivals aside. Most of Kaiser Tiger’s beers come in 16-, ten-, and five-ounce pours, and exploring several of the five-ounce ones is a fun time, especially given that many—including the Off Color Scurry, a local riff on a kottbusser, brewed with honey and molasses—are a mere $2.
The same bizarre cold plagued the baguette on which the Veggie Wedgie is served. Of course, a vegetarian eating at a sausage and bacon place is setting himself up for failure. That vegetarian will find no solace in the thin, bland Welsh rarebit, one of eight dipping sauces that can be ordered with the fries (be warned: the rarebit also is served with toasted bread as a starter).
You’re much safer with bacon, which shows up on a bacon board (four “gourmet” cuts), in bacon-wrapped dates, in bacon-wrapped shrimp, and in the form of bacon “grenades” (spicy meatballs wrapped in bacon, beer battered, and deep-fried—OK, maybe that’s not so safe). And you’re certainly safe with beer. Maybe you’re the most safe of all with bacon and beer. For $20 you can get three cuts of bacon with three beer pairings.
That’s one-third the cost of one-day admission to Pitchfork.