Heads up, gastrogeeks: Forbidden Root (1746 W. Chicago Ave., West Town, no phone yet), the self-described “botanical brewery” known for crafting boozy plant-infused ales, has tapped Dan Weiland (Trenchermen, Blackbird) to exec-chef its new brewpub in West Town.
Set to open this winter in the refurbished Hub Theater space, the full-service, 150-seat brewpub will sling Forbidden Root’s complex beers (plus a few from other breweries), whose flavor profiles it will be Weiland’s job to work around. “It’s a beautiful space,” says the 37-year-old chef, who cut his teeth in mostly French and Italian restaurants. “All refurbished wood, brick, cast iron. Glass jars to showcase the beers’ ingredients.”
Weiland is still in the process of building his kitchen (let alone his food menu), but says he’s grateful to not be working with overpoweringly hoppy beers. Pressed for an example, he cites Forbidden Root’s malts. “It’s this delicious, crunchy, nutty flavor. I could make a great granola with it. I could incorporate it into a salad. I don’t want a dish to mirror a beer, but highlight it.”
Past expertly paired beer and food, Weiland wants his menu to offer unpretentious but elevated bar food. “It definitely will have a burger,” he says, but also promises a variety of nuanced dish flavors. Brunch is in the works (“I’ll maybe make a cool oatmeal out of the leftover grain,” he says), as is a modest dessert menu. “I don’t want a dessert as big as my entrée, but maybe some floats utilizing some of the beer in there.” Because why miss an opportunity for a dessert buzz?