Goose Island Pub
Bacon & Beer Nuts – Spiced Maple Glaze
Chicago Style Pizza Dip – Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Fresh Basil, Housemade Giardiniera, Garlic Crust
Sweet Italian Beef Sandwich – Aged Provolone, Housemade Sweet & Sour Braised Peppers, Au Jus
Roast Pork Sandwich – Braised Broccoli Rabe, Aged Provolone, Hoagie Bun
Classic Poutine – Beef Gravy, Cheese Curds
Greed Chili Pork – Pepper Jack Cheese, House Pico de Gallo, Fried Egg, Kaiser Bun
At this point rivaling many of the industry’s biggest names in terms of styles, awards and distribution, a total of over thirty Lagers, Stouts, Pilsners and Ales including their eponymous IPA and 312 Urban Wheat commonly found at Bars, Grocers and Liquor Stores across the globe, fans of Goose Island Beer Company are a devout group frequently encountered in the MidWest and although the company sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2011 most will say the quality has not diminished, the only real change being an improvement in the products’ previous scarcity.
Founded by John Hall in 1988 and growing the brand out of a small Chicago brewery into an empire of Pubs spanning seven cities including Las Vegas as of June 2016, one could say that Goose Island was one of the first American Craft Beer manufacturers to really strike it big, the 3,500 square foot location inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino playing host to two for lunch during the first Saturday of College Football in 2017.
Formerly home to The Ainsworth, a shadowy Sports Lounge across from Vinyl that had never seemed particularly hospitable, Goose Island Pub picks up where the former tenant left off by retaining its dual ports of entry but by opening one up and redecorating with blonde woods, better lights and more televisions the space instantly feels more welcoming, a recent tweak by Hard Rock Executive Chef Bradley Manchester seeing the space ditch Pretzels, Pizzas and Tots in favor of a menu built around the Windy City and several classic American Sandwiches.
Not especially fond of Beer and dining with a total teetotaler, the obvious focus thus on Food and the scene with a particularly brisk Iced Tea refreshing palates between bites, it was after greetings from a well-inked Bartender soon joined by a blonde female server in short-shorts that the menu was perused, the eventual order including a half-dozen items including three Sandwiches with everything sent out at a leisurely pace across three courses.
Largely familiar with the company and its first BrewPub, a favorite of family during their time in Chicago though the food had never technically been tasted, it was with Oregon State playing across several Televisions while the Yankees occupied others that conversation carried on beneath Rock music, the first round featuring a metal bucket of Crispy Bacon and Peanuts with a Spicy Maple Glaze alongside thin slices of garlicky Pita and a skillet of stewed Tomatoes, Pepperoni, Basil and bubbling Mozzarella.
Not the sort of place to cut corners, the spicy Giardiniera, Sweet & Sour Peppers, Pico de Gallo and Buns all made in-house daily, it was with the last few bites of Relish finished off that two sandwiches arrived in white wrapping, the presentation doing no justice to the package’s actual contents as both the juicy roast Beef and Pork were as good as what one will find in Chicago or Philadelphia, the former served with plenty of Peppers on a toasted Hoagie capable of standing up to its contents even after a dip in Jus while the later could make fans of Tommy DiNic’s do a double take.
Equally presenting classics alongside novelties, platters of hand-cut Fries offered plain or with any number of toppings including Hot Sauce or Chili, it was a bit of a shock that the other man at the table stated he’d “never had *real* Poutine” when a platter slathered in melted Curds and rich Beef Gravy arrived, the bastardization of the dish largely due to the Québécoise themselves but Manchester’s version true to the real thing while the Green Chili Pork channeled the Southwest with tender roasted Butt spiced up by Cayenne and Black Peppers even before the smoky Green stuff was added along with Pepper Jack, Onions and Tomatoes plus a Sunny-Side Egg on a fluffy Kaiser Roll.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Thus far not really capturing the hearts of Las Vegans or Tourists, the fact that much of the Hard Rock’s clientele comes from Los Angeles as opposed to Chicago at least partly at play, Goose Island is a very strong entry amongst the city’s best places to catch a game, though in order to truly stand out the presentation of Sandwiches could stand to be a little more creative while game-sounds as opposed to music from the Casino floor would also be much appreciated.
RECOMMENEDED: Roast Pork Sandwich, Sweet Italian Beef Sandwich, Classic Poutine.
AVOID: N/A, but considering the fact that Goose Island’s website features no less than a half-dozen Desserts built around their Beer one assumes that Goose Island Pub could at least put one on the menu…or tab the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s talented Mickey Harden to create something of his own.
TIP: Open 11am until “late” daily with several Goose Island Beers on tap changing seasonally, those looking to charge their cell-phones would be well advised to stop in for Lunch or a Beer as each table sports mobile chargers doubling as menu cards.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.