Tri-umph—The Craftsman by Two Brothers

December 2016 View more

nmag1216_tablefortwo_the-craftsman-interior_800pxLeave it to a craft brewer to pair creative ambition with a sense of precision to arrive at a truly unique dining experience.

Long known and beloved locally (and beyond) for their family-owned Warrenville-based brewery, Jason and Jim Ebel—better known as Two Brothers—suddenly sit atop a West Suburban empire in the making, with a line of coffee products, a new spirits line and a growing collection of pubs and restaurants to abet their centerpiece beer. The latest entry in this expanding body of work is an impressively wide-ranging restaurant concept that serves as yet another high-profile addition to the downtown Naperville dining and nightlife scene.

Numbers game

nmag1216_tablefortwo_the-craftsman-114_800pxThe Craftsman clearly aims to be more than simply another suburban brewpub. With a three-level complex comprised of The Market Café, a first-floor coffeehouse and deli (with in-house butcher); The Modern Tavern, a second-story, high-end farm-to-table eatery; and The Third Floor, an after-hours indoor/outdoor cocktail lounge (with a separate street entrance); the goal seems to be no less than to be all things Two Brothers to all people, and at all times of day.

Exposed brick and handsome wood define the aesthetic throughout, offering strong evidence that everything has been thought out and designed with attention to detail and—yes, craftsmanship—in mind. While the focus of our visit was dinner in The Modern Tavern, we passed through The Market Café on the way to the staircase, noticing a wide selection of breakfast bowls, sandwiches and pastries on the slate at the coffee bar, and plenty of artisan meats, cheeses and sandwich selections tucked further back at the deli. Upstairs, the long, narrow dining room of The Modern Tavern is lined with semi-private tables along the walls and a row of communal tables down the center.

The art of the craft   

nmag1216_tablefortwo_the-craftsman-057_800pxThose center tables will come in handy for parties opting to construct a shared meal out of the menu’s Blueprints, Nuts and Bolts and Crosscuts sections, which include appetizers, small plates and meat-and-cheese boards, respectively. They’ll also be in good position to debate the merits of the sizable wine list and the two-dozen beers on offer—many from the Two Brothers family, of course, but a few well-chosen craft brew comrades as well, including selections from local favorites Solemn Oath and Metropolitan Brewing.

With a nod to the DIY menu concept, my companion and I chose to pursue different paths to meal construction on this evening. We kicked things off by splitting an order of the steamed buns from the Blueprints list—two hot, doughy pillows filled with a very flavorful pimento cheese—before going our separate ways for the main meal. My companion stuck to the small plates, opting to make an entrée out of the horseradish gnocchi, which was studded with pancetta, lightly sautéed in browned butter and served on a bed of spinach topped with pecorino cheese. Meanwhile, I ventured over to the Structure section of heavier entrées for my main course, forgoing oxtail and walleye creations in favor of one of the evening specials: a juicy twelve-ounce aged ribeye steak served with a wedge of au gratin potatoes and a pile of perfectly charred Brussels sprouts.

nmag1216_tablefortwo_the-craftsman-157_800pxDessert offered further proof of how a meticulous focus on construction and craft has helped build the Two Brothers brand, with the rich chocolate layer cake and tangy key lime pie suggesting that if they ever give up the beer, coffee and spirits to try their hand simply at sweets, these two brothers would likely be on their way to yet another winner.

The Craftsman by Two Brothers
16 West Jefferson Avenue, Naperville