Moody Tongue Brewing is known for innovative, “culinary” beers — take its Sliced Nectarine IPA or Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter, for example — so perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that serving food would be a logical next step in the brewery’s evolution.
What is surprising is that Moody Tongue is opening a fine dining, tasting-menu restaurant, complete with unique beer pairings. That’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think “brewpub.”
Set to open later this summer, the new location for Moody Tongue at 2515 South Wabash Avenue houses a dramatically expanded brewing operation, an upscale spot (The Dining Room at Moody Tongue), and a more casual bar/restaurant called The Bar at Moody Tongue.
It helps that the ambitious undertaking has a stellar two-man team behind it, sharing one first name and a laundry list of credentials between them. Brewmaster and president Jared Rouben is a former Goose Island brewmaster, and new executive chef Jared Wentworth has a whole constellation of Michelin stars for his work at Longman & Eagle and Dusek’s. The two have been friends for years; when it came time for Rouben to open the food side of the business, Wentworth was a logical choice.
“If you’re looking for a 10-course beer pairing experience, I don’t know of any other place in the country giving beer this kind of attention,” Rouben says. “If that’s not what you’re interested in that evening, you can have great skillet-fried chicken or an incredible burger, sit by a nice, large fireplace, and be comfortable.”
Experimenting with Moody Tongue’s vast beer offerings, Wentworth discovered flavor pairings he never knew existed. He’ll also collaborate with Rouben on restaurant-exclusive beers. For example, on the opening menu, he’ll serve a specially-brewed sour watermelon saison alongside king crab, cheong fun noodles, peanuts, and XO sauce, plus other adventurous pairings.
“I’m being challenged in a completely different way. Who knew that sea urchin and scallop tartare would pair perfectly with a pear saison, or that red Flanders ale would go so perfectly with beef?” Wentworth says. “It pushes me to bring something to the table that makes the dish pop.”
The Dining Room’s 10-course tasting menu will go for an estimated $135 per person, including beer pairings. That’s the advantage of beers being brewed in-house: There’s no need to stock a massive (and expensive) wine cellar, keeping costs relatively low.
As for Rouben, he sees the expanded Moody Tongue concept as the culmination of a long-held dream.
“Since I was a culinary student, I’ve always loved the idea of incorporating beer with the best food,” he says. “Now I have the opportunity to do so, because I get to work with Jared.”