Barley House on tap at Algonquin Commons<!--[component:schoolicons]<br />-->
ALGONQUIN - The Irish Pub and Restaurant occupies the building that was formerly The Claddagh Irish Pub in Algonquin Commons. The beers have names like "Midas Touch Elixir," "Monty Python Holy Grail" and "He'Brew" - self-proclaimed the "chosen beer."
Barley House offers 250 varieties - ranging from domestic "lawnmower lagers," to rare microbrews, hard cider and blends that include "black and tan" (featuring Smithwicks and Guinness).
Barley House added lunch to its menu Monday, after four days of dinner-only service. Jason said the reception had been good so far, despite the fact that some of the rare brews command more than $20 a bottle.
"We sold a lot of $10 and $25 beers," Jason said. "People are going out fewer times now, but when they do go out they are spending money."
Jason, president of Twelfth Night Restaurant Group and 20-year veteran of the industry, believes there was a need in this area for a beer bar, common in Chicago. But the father of two also wanted to create an affordable, family friendly restaurant. Children's meals are served on Frisbees that they can take home. No entrée will command more than $20, and wine sells for $3 a glass.
The menu includes an extensive array of appetizers that include pulled chicken nachos, coconut onion rings, sushi rolls, steamed oysters and "100-pound" onion soup - featuring 100 pounds of onions in every 10 gallons. A $7.50 lunch special, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, offers all-you-can-eat soup, salad and artisan bread.
Entrées range from a portabella mushroom sandwich to filet mignon and sautéed mako shark.
The idea was to create a fun, relaxing atmosphere. There are bowls of free popcorn on the tables, tucked into the cozy confines of what was formerly Claddagh Irish Pub at 1520 Randall Road. But this is more than a Celtic oasis. Jason recruited his sister, Pam Johnson, a school teacher from Algonquin, to modernize and brighten the 8,800-square-foot interior. There are flat screen TVs at the elaborate bar and in the dining rooms. Staff members dress casually in blue jeans and the menu is punctuated with jokes.
"Before you can get a Hamm's [beer] you have to sing the song," Jason said.
Jason, who along with other family members also operates The Barn of Barrington in Barrington and the Walleye Grill in Huntley, relies on loyal staff to help him manage the three locations. The chef at Barley House, David Johnson (no relation), worked with him at the Walleye for six months prior to the move.
"I've got really good people," Jason said. "I hired 70 people from 200 to 300 applicants. It was nice to be that picky."
Where: 1520 S. Randall Road, Algonquin.
Hours: Monday through Thursday - kitchen, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; bar open to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday - kitchen, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; bar open to 2 a.m.; Sunday - kitchen, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; bar open to 1 a.m.
Barley House beer club: Drink 200 beers in a year and receive a $50 Barley House gift card, shirts and a cap.
Information: 84... ; www.barley-house.com.