Does new food service mean that Baderbräu has morphed into full-fledged brewpub? The South Side brewery, nestled near Lake Shore Drive and McCormick Place, will start serving customers food on Wednesday afternoon. There’s unique items like a macaroni and cheese waffle and a juicy bratwurst braised in Baderbräu beer.
Customers will order at the bar or the host stand and runners will bring food out to tables. Baderbräu patrons were relying on nearby restaurants to order takeout while drinking at the brewery. Chef Luciano is one of those restaurants and they’re behind Baderbräu’s food. Owner Rocky Gupta took over the nearly 35-year-old Italian restaurant in 2014 from his father. Baderbräu’s menu allowed him to break free. For example, Chef Luciano—under Gupta’s father’s direction—didn’t serve beef or pork, something that’s not a limitation at Baderbräu.
Baderbrau specializes in “crushable beer,” which is kind of like craft beer for drinkers reluctant to embrace craft beer. They’ve got a variety of cool cans the evoke a wide range of interests from The X-Men (They’ll host a C2E2 after party when the comic convention meets at McCormick Place) to the White Sox (Sox Park serves their South Side Pride beer). While pairings will eventually come, the kitchen isn’t bashful about offering patrons flavorful and spicy items that go well with beer. Gupta has experimented with one star dish in particular, that macaroni and cheese waffle. The waffle iron creates plenty of caramelized and crusty cheese from a batter full of noodles. It’s unique finger food and comes with a side of Buffalo-style sauce. Chef Frank Kwiatkowski is executing Gupta’s plan. His resume includes stints at the Anthem, Scout, Unite Urban Grill, and Intro Chicago.
Chef Luciano’s food gives Baderbräu an in-house catering staff to handle private events like weddings. But the kitchen is also a necessity. South Side breweries don’t have the luxury to rely on food trucks like their North Side brethren. Though the city makes it hard for some food trucks, brewery owner Rob Sama said that some maybe spoiled by docking near downtown office buildings that give them plenty of customers. When they go to off-the-beaten-path areas, like the one where Baderbräu stands, they aren’t accustomed to fewer customers and they’re less-likely to dock in these place.
Sama and Gupta have been talking about collaborating since December. They’re excited to better serve existing customers and attract new ones. Wednesday’s is a soft opening. They won’t have a full menu immediately, and they’ll phase items in cumulating with a grand opening on April 25.