Chicago’s first cider house, Eris Brewery and Cider House, should open next week and the interiors have come a long way since last February’s sneak peak. Nearly all the tables are ready inside Eris, the massive three-floor restaurant inside a former church/masonic temple at 4240 W. Irving Park Road. It’ll make beer and ciders while Chicago restaurant veteran Jonathan Trubow has developed a menu befitting an upscale gastropub.
Cider’s popularity continues to climb with the city’s first cider bar, The Northman in North Center, and Right Bee Cider, the city’s first cidery in Hermosa, educating Chicago’s masses. But Eris could be a game changer for the city as it’s part bar, restaurant, and private event space in addition to making its own beer and cider on premises. Workers have transformed the space which features 20-foot ceilings. Eris publicly unveiled its plans in 2015 for the Old Irving Park neighborhood.
Trubow, Eris’s executive chef, has worked for Harry Caray’s restaurants and helped open the Navy Pier location. He also overlooked the kitchens at Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro in North Center, Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant in Avondale, and Wishbone in Lincoln Square and West Loop.
“I understand how neighborhood restaurants work and the need to cater to the neighborhood,” said Trubow.
Trubow also knows that neighborhoods change. He immediately talked about the need to serve vegetarians, vegans, and those avoiding gluten. He described a shredded portobello mushroom sandwich. He smokes it with applewood and a little cherry, tears it apart, and smothers it with barbecue sauce. He serves it with a gluten-free pretzel roll and vegan cole slaw. It’s something meat eaters will want to try.
Steamed mussels are a staple at many brewpubs, and Trubow is eager to give the items his own spin. He uses traditional PEI mussels with cider-based sauce and gorgonzola cheese — a change from many of the cream-based sauces chefs typically use with mussels. Trubow doesn’t want to be gimmicky, but he’ll use cider when he can including on a braised short rib, a hearty course which should suit Chicagoans during the winter freeze. Fans of street meat should also take note: Eris will serve cevapcici, the Croatian sausage that Chicagoans may have seen sold during the summer at street festivals.
The Eris space comes with three kitchens, including one upstairs for private events. The cider house plans to grow into the space, so it won’t be immediately available for weddings. But Trubow is eager to show off his catering chops. He wants to please all of his customers by being flexible.
“If you can’t incorporate that into your business mantels in this day and age, you’re not going to last long,” he said.
There are future plans for multi-course beer/cider-paired dinners for the future, but Eris will first focus on day-to-day operations. It’ll be open for lunch and dinner off the bat with plans to add brunch. While customers can order the full menu from anywhere they’re sitting (as long as the kitchen is open), they’ll also have some bar snacks like a cheeseboard from local artisans, olives, a spicy-buttered popcorn, and maple-tossed nuts.
Trubow mentioned how he’s learned much as he gets older. He made mistakes and was involved in a fatal auto accident in 2000 in Florida. Eris’s owners respect how he stepped up and accepted responsibility.
“We consider ourselves lucky to be working with someone so talented and accomplished. He’s impressed us all with his personal integrity and insane work ethic,” a statement from Eris’s Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza read.
The Eris team includes industry veterans Foik, Pizza, and Hayley Shine. They’ve spent time working at places including Goose Island Brewing, Virtue Cider, and Rock Bottom Brewing.
Named for the Greek goddess of chaos, the cider house/brewpub is almost ready for the general public. Come back next week for more details.