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Posted on May 4, 2010 | 0 comments

English

River North is home to this distinctive gastropub, featuring a mouth-watering menu, classic rock and three floors of nightlife excellence

English pubs aren’t exactly rare in Chicago. Or the U.S. for that matter. But to find one that does it right — from the authentic decor to old-school menu favorites, drink options and classic rock & roll — is a little more difficult.

That’s what makes an experience at English so enjoyable: The best qualities of a British pub are intact, and it’s at the core of River North’s great nightlife scene. As a classy venue with three floors on which to lounge and enough quality food and drink to handle the cravings of any palette, English will have you hooked in no time.

WHERE YOU’LL FIND IT

444 N. LaSalle in the River North neighborhood. Call 312-222-6200 or visit the website at www.englishchicago.com

WHEN IT’S OPEN

11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday-Friday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturday

PEAK TIME

English is a reliable lunch and after-work spot and brings a regular dinner crowd on weekdays. A huge crowd rolls in after 9:30, especially on weekends, to listen to the music mix and soak up the lively scene.

HISTORY IN SHORT

English’s interior is inspired by the landmark building in which it is situated, as well as the private clubs that are so common in London. Just two years old, it’s from the Eat Well Drink Better Management Company, which operates a host of popular establishments in Chicago, including the newly opened LaSalle Power Company just across the street.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Outside on LaSalle Street, you’re greeted by a big rectangular sign that reads “Live Well. Drink Better,” boasting the bar’s worthwhile theme. Inside, you’ll find a mature, classy British-style pub with three floors, offering a menu with classic English favorites and an American influence. … English has an Art Deco style with art and large vintage photographs on the walls, glass tiles, walnut flooring, handcrafted chandeliers and ornate ironwork. … A few pool tables and a great view of the skyline beyond the giant windows overlooking LaSalle add a little something extra.

THE ATMOSPHERE

English boasts three expansive floors, providing the patrons space to drink, eat, lounge and listen to guest and resident DJs who pay homage to 40 years of British Rock as well as American rock tunes from the ’80s through today. … An attractive 20-to-40-something crowd tends to make this a destination nightspot, offering the best of all worlds.

MENU VARIETY

English features a unique menu that combines the best of an American bistro with Old English flair. … Appetizers like English crisps (waffle fries, Guinness-braised pork belly, sharp cheddar, sweet cabbage, scallions and sour cream), curried chicken & shrimp skewers with a yogurt dipping sauce and warm spinach, bacon, artichoke and goat cheese fondue will get you started off right. … A host of salad and soup options are available to tempt you for the sandwiches (such as the smoked gouda and black forest ham or grilled flat iron steak with caramelized onions and goat cheese) or entrees like the seared duck breast, crispy salmon or chicken roulade just to name a few. “The Guinness-braised pork sliders are so good,” says one regular patron. “Where else are you going to find a mini sandwich drenched in Guinness?”

WHO YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE THERE

Weekends can draw a younger crowd that’s out to make a night of it. During the week, it tends to be more River North locals coming in for a drink and a bite to eat. … Definitely one of the more popular options to catch the best of Chicago’s nightlife. … It’s not uncommon for the bar’s soccer telecasts to bring in groups for a pint or three.

CRITIC’S REVIEW

“River North is filled with lively bars and nightlife galore. But none fare as favorably as English. … If you’re looking for a place to blow off steam early on Friday, participate in the good atmosphere at English’s happy hour. It’s sure to make you forget your weekday whines and bring out the ever-loved weekend warrior in us all.”

— Chicago Scene’s Reader’s Choice issue (February 2009)

WHAT CHICAGO IS SAYING…

“Each floor is a great place to eat, drink, listen to great music and watch the game. If you’re tired of the same old bar scene and want to try something new, check out English.”

— Melissa Jackson

“The food really speaks for itself. Even though it’s more of a pub, the food is phenomenal. My favorite is the fried egg BLT.

— Kelly Deetjen