atlas brewpub, chicago: “it is what it is”
Further up the brown line from Armitage neighborhood is Atlas Brewpub, a brewery that was recommended to me by a few locals. In spite of the fact that they serve food in addition to house beers, they are only open in the evenings. We arrived around opening time to see several brewers packed into the small work space, which is windowed to the public.
Atlas does not feel like the typical brewery or brewpub. It is fairly dark and the full bar is the focus of one room while another dining area sits adjacent. A wall of luxurious-looking booths sits opposite the bar.
Service is a fickle thing. What one diner sees as attentive could be called overbearing by some. Sitting at the bar can be a gamble, too, if the place is busy. But not saying hello is just silly.
Atlas was almost completely empty when we visited, yet our server seemed put out that we wanted…service. His brusque attitude was tolerable at first, but never once did we get a clear answer to a question or any suggestions on beer or food. Awkwardness continued to rise as he solicited no feedback and was downright unfriendly.
As opposed to us, the couple down the bar had multiple visits from staff, including brewers. They were given recommendations of things to try and it was clear that they were personal friends of the staff. I wanted what they had. Maybe Atlas is more of an insider’s game.
The nachos arrived and at first glance and bite seemed very good. As we continued our gastronomical-archeological dig, though, the plate turned into a sloppy, greasy mess. The bottom chips were fat-soaked and inedible. We scrapped what we could. When Rick showed the grease puddle to the bartender he said, “Nachos. It is what it is.”
Agreed. And it was what it was.
In a city like Chicago, where countless restaurants, bars, and even breweries exist, there is no reason to put much effort into making it to Atlas. If you’re in the area, it is worth a moment’s time (just don’t sit at the bar). But if you’re not already going that way, it is what it is.