Restaurant review: Somewhere In Particular

G.A. Benton

Nowhere In Particular moved to Somewhere In Particular, and that's a fun place to hang out. Wait, what?

Yeah, I'll explain that better. Nowhere In Particular is a beer-making company that operates — this nomenclature is common in the industry — as a “gypsy brewery.” Such businesses lack their own brewing facilities and instead, somewhat nomadically, seek intermittent arrangements with various, more traditional breweries that allow the roving operation to temporarily produce beer with the established brewery's excess equipment. If this sounds a bit like an “underground” movement, it is.

With the new Somewhere In Particular Brewery — aka “S.I.P.” — esteemed if mysterious Nowhere In Particular brewmaster Pat Sullivan (aka “Charlie Navillus”) has begun an above-ground brewery with local investors. Sullivan will continue to brew and sell his Nowhere beers from multiple locations in several states, but his Somewhere beers will be available only on the site where they're produced.

That site, connected to the historic brick Henderson House, built in 1900, is a delightfully offbeat, convivial brewpub where visitors are greeted by a cross-legged mock skeleton lounging on a bench outside the entrance. Inside, visitors encounter “deep cut” rhythm-and-blues tracks, tavern-appropriate low lighting, a couple TVs, flashy murals that recall vintage pinball machine artwork, a concrete floor, plus simple wooden tables (some of which are communal). Seating throughout the compact room is on backless stools. A beer garden is available seasonally, but sometimes open on busy winter evenings — it's tented and heated.

Eight stools line the bar beneath Edison bulbs dangling from sections of railroad tie. Behind the bar is an expansive, eye-catching “tree” fashioned from metal branches and leaves of live moss that, from afar, resemble an aerial view of a forest.

Somewhere's beers are style-hopping but mercifully not over-hopped. Put specifically, they're uncommonly balanced, clean-tasting and not primarily just variations on an IPA — a tired trend. The nine or so on-point rotating drafts (flights are 4 pours for $10) might include a properly tart Berliner weisse sour, a standout brown ale, a soothing porter with chocolate-milk notes, a respectable IPA and a Belgian-style tripel with characteristic apricot and clove flavors highlighted but not overshadowed by a pleasant hops backbone.

Beer-friendly fare comprises the small menu. Among the snacks, if the peppery, smoky, maple-syrup-glazed “crack bacon” ($7 for three substantial pieces) isn't as addictive as crack, the thick-and-chewy pig candy might be close to it. The satisfying Beer Queso ($6, served with Shagbark tortilla chips), makes up for its lack of beer character with searing jalapeno heat.

Beer-sipping buddies abound on the built-to-share Tasting Plate ($13): high-quality spiced nuts from Krema, Cerignola olives, a smooth-and-tangy pimento cheese ball studded with crisp candied bacon, serious (if not beery as advertised) hummus, sweet and mustard-seed-livened pickles, pita triangles, carrot and celery sticks, plus tiny commercial pretzels.

The best parts of the serviceable salads are the garnishes. Crisp bacon, white cheddar and crunchy house croutons top the Midwest ($7). I preferred the Italian ($6), topped with good sub-style ingredients.

The solid French Dip Sandwich ($10) — warm, medium-rare roast beef that looks and tastes good, caramelized onions, melted provolone, a toasted and easy-to-chew baguette — comes with chips and salty jus.

If you only order one thing here, get a pizza. They're Neapolitan-style pies with thin, golden-brown-edged crusts and bold toppings. Two recommendations: The Ohio Pepperoni ($10) — crisp, spicy, locally sourced pepperoni and oven-browned mozzarella garnished with fresh basil and jalapeno-honey drizzles; the Southwest ($12) — spicy, crisp, smoky andouille disks and fiery jalapenos countered by black beans, corn, melted mozzarella and cilantro-spiked sour cream squiggles.

While enjoying such pizzas with terrific house beers, the initially eye-rolling name of this endearingly quirky brewpub begins to make perfect sense.

5053 Dierker Rd., Northwest Side


Somewhere in Particular