ROGERS PARK — Empirical Brewery's new Rogers Park brewpub is cooking up two new features it plans to debut at the restaurant this week: a booze-enriched weekend brunch menu and outdoor patio seating for 30 people.
The 1330 W. Morse Ave. brewpub opened with lunch and dinner fare last month in the former home of Act One Pub at the Mayne Stage. After a successful trial run at brunch last weekend, owner Bill Hurley said he's ready to unveil new creations from his culinary team.
"I've always said: 'It's about the beer, make sure you feature the beer prominently,'" Hurley said. "They did a great job doing that."
In fact, two-thirds of the brunch menu is infused with Empirical beer.
A beer waffle and chicken sandwich stuffs chicken, crispy onions and bacon between a boozy waffle and comes with a side of ale syrup and potatoes, while the crab cake benedict serves up hollandaise made with the brewery's Cold Fusion Cream Ale.
Stuffed biscuits and gravy are also a must-try, Hurley said.
Rich pork sausage gravy is built with a roux containing an Empirical porter and smothers biscuits made from Hurley's American Wheat Ale.
"It straight up tasted like drinking a beer," Hurley said. "It was really good."
Other breakfast classics made with Empirical beer include braised corned beef hash made with Phase Transition Porter and the Empirical Breakfast, which adds a 5-ounce beer pairing to a smattering of early morning staples like eggs, potatoes, toast and a side of meat.
Hot cinnamon doughnuts, deviled eggs and granola and yogurt will round out some of the lighter fare, and a few regular lunch items like burgers and sandwiches will be available as well.
Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends (alcohol sales will start at 11 a.m. Sundays), followed by a transition into the lunch menu.
A 30-seat patio will be added to the brewpub this week — as soon as Hurley can fill the pub's other new investment, a 1993 Chevrolet Astro van, with the patio furniture.