How many restaurants can you name that craft their own wine and brews on site, and have a unique menu that pairs perfectly? This Algonquin favorite does.
The continuing growth of craft beer, boutique wines and independent restaurants known for fresh ingredients and made-from-scratch menus is especially good news for The Village Vintner, 2380 Esplanade Dr., in Algonquin.
The booming business, which marked its third anniversary in May, covers all three bases: it’s a microbrewery, a winery and a sit-down restaurant.
“What we have now is an outgrowth of the original concept,” says Bob Boyer, who oversees front-of-the-house action while his brother, Steve Boyer, serves as brewmaster and winemaker.
Before opening their current location near the Algonquin Commons, the brothers operated Village Vintner Winery in nearby Carpentersville. The new operation expands production possibilities while appealing to a broader range of customers.
“We make all the wine here and most of the beers, though we carry a few guest beers on tap and in bottle,” says Bob.
When it comes to beer production, The Village Vintner uses a seven-barrel system, with each barrel yielding two kegs – roughly the equivalent of 31 gallons per barrel. Four to five staple beers are always available and include regulars such as Vanilla Cream Ale, Chocolate Vanilla Stout, Scottish Ale and a double IPA called Hop Rocket, which is a best-seller. The bourbon ale, also popular, is aged in wooden barrels. Two seasonal beers are always available; pilsner and maibock are summertime favorites.
As for the wines, oenophiles can choose among some 40 different varietals (all produced on-site): 17 reds (such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese), 12 whites (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Viognier), 16 fruits and sweets, four dessert wines, and one almond sparkling wine. All grapes come from California or Washington state.
The Village Vintner’s entire drink output is sold in-house, either at the retail counter or in the restaurant/bar. While diners can enjoy a drink with their meal, members of the Wine & Growler Club can sign up for monthly memberships and sample a variety of craft drinks.
Supporting The Village Vintner’s beer and wine production is the 100-seat restaurant, which also has a 25-seat seasonal patio. The kitchen is led by Chef Rob Wurster, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago.
Bistro Medallions is perhaps the restaurant’s best-selling dish, and it comes with two four-ounce fillets topped with a choice of horseradish chive butter, blue cheese crumbles, garlic parmesan crust or pesto with melted fresh mozzarella.
Also popular is Western Mac ‘n Cheese: Cavatappi pasta tossed with a cheese-ale sauce, then topped with jalapenos, roasted red peppers and beef brisket that’s been slow-cooked overnight in a wood-burning oven. The whole combination is finally baked with cheddar cheese.
At lunch, a crowd-pleaser is the Vintner Burger, topped with stout barbecue sauce, honey pepper bacon, toasted onion straws and Merkts cheese spread. Personal-sized pizzas from a wood-fire oven, salads and tacos also are popular.
Reservations are taken during the week, but on Fridays and Saturdays tables are held only until 6 p.m.
The Village Vintner is open Monday from 5 to10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.