Those of us who have visited tow yards probably wouldn’t count the experience as positive. It’s an understatement to say that a visit to the new Tow Yard Brewing Co. (501 S. Madison Ave., 638-9273) is a marked improvement.
Here, you can indulge in Tow Yard’s signature brews or, in a generous move by management, tap into a wide range of other beers. On our visit, even though its taps weren’t running yet, Tow Yard offered a sampler of the Emerald Circle IPA, Goldie Hops Golden Ale and Hook Up Shandler. They instantly warmed us up to the place.
Appetizers demonstrated some creative effort. Beer Can Wings ($11) bypassed the usual sauce-slathered versions for a quartet of full (two-part) wings with a dry beer rub. An unexceptional yogurt ranch dip provided moisture, but the wings themselves did fine unadorned. The confusingly named Soul Rolls ($9) were a kind of open-faced egg roll, with pulled pork, American cheese, and collard greens exposed in deep fried shells.
Among the signature sandwiches, the Prohibition ($5.50/$9) offered shaved roast beef, beer cheese sauce, grilled onion, tomato, smashed avocado and chipotle mayo. The blur of sweet, tangy, spicy and salty was a flavorful way to smack my companion awake midday and gave rise to the guessing game of, “What’s that ingredient?” Virtually every bite had its own taste.
The Bourdain ($5.50/$9) came packed with uncured ham, genoa salami, capicolla, provolone, onion, lettuce and enough giardiniera to cause your stomach to talk back all afternoon. Perhaps food fanatics can tell me what it has to do with Anthony Bourdain.
Awkward attempts at creative sandwich naming proved less successful than the sandwiches themselves. Do such dated references as the Tonya Harding and the Sonny Crockett really belong on the menu of such a handsome new drinkery?
A $3.25 upcharge gets you a soft drink and a side, with options including Quinoa Tubbeleh and Broad Ripple Chips. You can get those chips by the bag, as well. If you want to really be controlling, you can custom-create an antipasti cutting board in conjunction with the kitchen at either a $10, $15, or $20 price point.
A raft of rookie mistakes, I hope, will be worked out by the time you read this. Our check came with prices higher than those on the menu (it was adjusted after we pointed out the error). The only two salad options—the Hoosier and the Bluegrass—both contained meat. Our awkwardly hovering-at-a-distance waiter didn’t ask if we wanted large or small sandwiches and presumed that we wanted the more expensive option (leading to halves of each one heading home with us).
And there’s no indication of desserts on the menu, although there’s a deli case on the other side of a wall that is stocked with them. You may well miss it depending on which door you enter through.•