Best Bites: The Hop Mess waffles & deviled eggs, Rhyme or Reason

The Hop Mess waffles, Rhyme or Reason
The Hop Mess with Revolution Sun Crusher wheat ale-infused waffles, brown sugar-candied bacon, Sun Crusher-infused maple syrup, and fresh berries

While I was sad to see the Wicker Park location of Jerry’s close last year (the endless sandwich menu overwhelmed in a delightful way), I was happy to try out its replacement. Rhyme or Reason is a gastropub that draws inspiration from retro ’70s themes, and its sprawling front patio was especially inviting on a sunny Saturday morning.

I decided to try The Hop Mess, brand new to the menu as a month-long collaboration with Revolution Brewing. Both the waffle batter and the maple syrup were (very) heavily infused with Revolution Brewing’s Sun Crusher, a new seasonal wheat ale that was already a favorite of mine from earlier in the summer. Together with blueberries, candied bacon, and whipped cream, the hoppy malted waffles really worked (especially with a cup of coffee for balance).

Deviled eggs with espresso-bacon jam, Rhyme or Reason
Deviled eggs with espresso-bacon jam

My friend and I also snacked on these deviled eggs before entrees arrived. A sticky smear of espresso-bacon jam on top of each creamy egg set the sweet-and-savory brunch tone. And while the patio was great, I’d easily return in cooler weather to challenge someone to a game of giant Connect Four in the lounge area next to the colorful bar.

Colorful bar, Rhyme or Reason
Colorful bar with hand-shaped light fixtures

The details: Rhyme or Reason, 1938 W. Division St., Chicago.

This week’s Best Bite: artisanal cheese board and Oktoberfest beer, Revolution Brewing

Revolution's German-style Oktoberfest beer
Revolution’s German-style Oktoberfest beer

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: Of all the great things ushered in by this new season, autumnal beers are near the top of the list. And while I’m always excited to try whatever new offerings are on tap at Revolution’s Logan Square brewpub, this year’s Oktoberfest has proven to be one of my all-time favorites. It had lots of caramel and spice notes without being too heavy, and would pair well with pretty much any fall food. I typically skip over cheese plates when reading a menu, but this thoughtful board was a good reminder to stop overlooking them. The three cheese selections on a recent weeknight were each excellent, especially the smoked gorgonzola (I had to restrain myself from devouring all the pieces on the board). The spiced pears, pickled vegetables, and candied peanuts all offered pleasant contrasts without clashing with any of the cheeses. Between that and the other dishes we ordered, Revolution is continuing to prove that it takes its food just as seriously as its beer.

Revolution Brewing artisanal cheeses
Wild rice gouda, aged cheddar, and smoked gorgonzola cheeses, with pear compote, pickled vegetables, candied peanut, and spent grain crackers

The details: Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.