Fall is here. Chill is in the air. Evenings are perfumed with the scent of wood burning fireplaces. The days are getting shorter, the nights are colder. But it isn’t the time for winter blues, not yet. We have landed in that sweet spot between the heat of summer and the first hard freeze. And that only means one thing: here comes Oktoberfest. I LOVE Oktoberfest! While not a huge beer fan, I enjoy the fall inspired brews on occasion. I like being outside in the crisp autumnal air with a pint and a brat. I mean, really, what’s not to love? It’s time for comfort food that matches those brews in your stein. This maybe my Eastern European roots talking, but I say let the meat and potatoes rule supreme!
Chicago is home to many a German restaurant. Some good, some great, some traditional and some no so much. There are places with umpa bands and dance floors. There are others where beer choices are more important than the quality of the food. The choices are available. I frequent a very traditional old school German place, in fact, just for the hackerpeter. Mmmmmmm, steak tartare ala Laschet’s Inn!
But let me introduce you to the new kid on the old block that I discovered on a whim recently. It isn’t traditional. It is mostly a sports bar with a great German beer selection. It is located in Lincoln Park, hardly an old school German neighborhood. But if you are looking to make your own Oktoberfest delicious with updated classics, do not miss the food at Prost! And yes, exclamation point in the name is well-deserved.
According to Ian Flowers, the chef of Prost!, the place is mainly about drinking. That is something this dashing young chef is attempting to change. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great place to drink German beer ~ not many places around carry my favorite Köstritzer Schwartzbier on draft. If drinks you want, Prost! has got plenty. On my recent visit, they tapped Ayinger Oktoberfest for the first time this season. Delicious!
But what I really, REALLY don’t want you to miss is Chef Flowers’ short rib, the recipe it took him six years to perfect. And perfect it is, the meat melting in your mouth, silky gravy pooling around horseradish mashed potatoes. Sounds simple? Perfection usually is. Don’t take my word for it, go try it. While you are at it, ginger butternut squash soup with duck confit and preserved fruit mostarda is an absolute must! The heat from ginger nicely offsets the creaminess of velvety squash purée, the salty bits of duck dancing with the sweetness of mostarda. House made potato pierogi, the ultimate comfort food, come topped with crab and asparagus for an updated twist on a classic. Pork roulade is served with pretzel stuffing so delicious, I may try to replicate it for my Thanksgiving table.
This soft spoken chef has serious kitchen prowess. And he clearly has done his homework. His dishes are great comfort food classics with a twist that seamlessly brings them into 21st century. They are worthy of attention on their own merits. Prost! is a watering hole first and a restaurant second, I understand that. But what I love about Chef Flowers’ dishes (aside from the fact that they are freakishly delicious) is how seamlessly they pair with some of my favorite German brews. Having tasted a glimpse of the menu, I am anxious to go back and try more. I will wash it all down with some Köstrizter or Oktoberfest. This maybe a Lincoln Park sports bar but, with food this good, it will be my Oktoberfest destination.
My fall forecast… deliciousness ahead! Here comes Oktoberfest. Prost!
2566 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614