Last week, Carolyn brought home a growler from Exit Strategy Brewing Company in Forest Park. She chose Rue Dauphine, a saison/farmhouse. Pale ales like this are usually pretty dry and have some tartness, but this one, I thought, was too tart, not very pleasant, though not unpleasant, just meh.
Still, I stopped by Exit Strategy to see what the place was like, and I was glad I did. Both the beers I sampled at the bar were excellent.
All Bizness is a witbier, an unfiltered wheat beer that was nicely spicy, mellower than the Rue Dauphine.
Exit Strategy is an American pale ale with the hoppiness dialed down so that other flavors were able to come through.
I was very happy with both beers and glad I gave the place another shot. I was also glad that you can sample any of the Exit Strategy beers you want and then create your own flights of 5 oz. tastes for $2.50 per pour.
The menu at Exit Strategy is impressive, though definitely and appropriately geared to a beer bar. There are several types of tacos (beef, duck, fish), burgers (including vegetarian), and some salads.
Last week, I wrote about the mysterious Jim Shoe sandwich. Pulling through the shoe theme at Exit Strategy, I ordered the Hamburger Horseshoe. The Horseshoe is a famous sandwich that was apparently “invented” in Springfield, Illinois, where it is still very popular. Like so many classics, the Horseshoe is pretty simple: hamburger on top of Texas toast, topped with fries and covered in cheese sauce, reminiscent of Welsh rarebit. At Exit Strategy, they dress the Horseshoe a little beyond the standard with diced tomato and bacon crumbles.
This was a very good sandwich, due in large part to the high-quality ingredients used in its construction. The beef is sourced locally from places like Slagel Family Farm and Tom Arnold Farms, and it’s more expensive than commodity beef, but as Lance said in Pulp Fiction when he was telling Vince Vega about high-end drugs, when you try it, you’ll know where your money went. The fries that top the Horseshoe are cut in-house, and the cheese sauce is not gloppy nacho type but well-made, slightly piquant and actually lighter than you might think.
Exit Strategy is a comfortable place: there are couches and living-room-type tables and chairs at the front of the restaurant, with spacious areas throughout. The kitchen is glassed in, so you can see the guys at work. According to Exit Strategy’s Kitchen Manifesto, “We believe in making everything ourselves … from the burger buns, to the condiments, everything … grind our own beef … produce our own goat cheese. … We produce everything from scratch.”
The Exit Strategy menu changes seasonally, and the beer offerings change all the time.
When you visit, consider taking your bike: there are bike racks, and with Madison so torn up in that area, going by car can be a drag (either way, drink responsibly: I’d recommend two or three 5 oz. tastes).
If Exit Strategy were to open in Oak Park, it would immediately become one of the top three dining destinations in the village.