A lot has stayed the same at Municipal Bar + Dining Co. ( 216 W. Ohio St.; MuncipalBar.com )including the Chicago theme, the laid-back atmosphere and those cool metallic chairs.
However, a lot has changed as wellmainly regarding the menu. ( The restaurant's patio has also opened for the summer, although a friend and I avoided that recently because of the intense heat. )
First, there were the refreshing drinks. My friend Alex and I both got the Moscow Mules that were, thankfully, served traditionally ( in the copper cup ). However, Municipal sets itself apart in having a whole section of the drink section devoted to Mulesincluding the Monster Mule, which is served in a teakettle.
The food was similarly impressive, overall. The ceviche managed to be refreshing while also packing a little heat, thanks to the jalapeno component. The smoked bacon deviled eggs were solid, as was the quinoa summer saladeven if it had quite the mishmash of ingredients ( arugula, strawberries, apples, carrots, sliced almonds, feta cheese and honey vinaigrette on a quinoa bed ).
Coming from the East Coast, I usually don't have high hopes for seafood dishes in the Chicago area, but Alex and I enjoyed the lobster roll and fish tacos. ( A side note: The fries I had with the rolldeep golden-brown and very crunchyare the best I've had anywhere this year. )
The desserts ( chocolate chip cookie skillet and empanadas ) were probably the weakest links during the meal, especially when I compare the latter to Latin American restaurants I've visited.
I do plan on revisiting Municipal; those fries and Moscow Mules are positively seductive.
Hard Rock's burger
Hard Rock Cafe ( 63 W. Ontario St.; HardRock.com/Chicago ) has always struck me as one of those "touristy" places to avoid. However, the restaurant now has a compelling reason for locals to give it a try.
Available now through Aug. 31, Hard Rock Cafe's limited-time Goose Island Tropical Bacon Burger will be paired with Goose Island IPA. I liked how the chili-spiced bacon, grilled pineapple and mango salsa played off each other and the burger. Also, Hard Rock was able to accommodate my friend, who doesn't eat red meat; there are chicken and veggie-patty options as well.
Speaking of beer pairings, State and Lake Chicago Tavern at theWit ( 201 N. State St.; StateAndLakeChicago.com ) now has a beer brunch, with combinations such as house-cured pastrami corned-beef hash and Matilda Belgian Style Ale.
My dining companion absolutely loved the pairing with his tasty tavern Benedict. I eschewed by beer ( although my friend was more than happy to drink mine ), opting for apple juice with my pastrami corned-beef hashwhich was absolutely scrumptious. If you have room, be sure to have an ice-cream sandwich at the end.