The team behind downtown spots like Bavette’s, Ciccio Mio, and Trivoli Tavern is exceptionally good at copy and pasting. Step into any of their restaurants and you’ll notice the same dim lighting, antique decor, attentive service, and occasionally even the same dishes.
And Armitage Alehouse is no different. But we don’t mind that this Lincoln Park spot is almost indistinguishable from its siblings (even though it’s an English pub). The formula still works, and Armitage Alehouse is a great restaurant.
But first, you have to get in, and this place is always booked. Chug that morning coffee to prepare for the daily 9am drop of new openings (always 14 days out) and be alert—the minute you look away, the reservations are gone.
Once you’ve made it inside, you’re basically in a Peaky Blinders episode. 1920s jazz circulates throughout the dark space. A warm, soft glow from pineapple lamps and a flickering fireplace provide just enough lighting to accentuate ornate paintings that look like the result of a very successful estate sale shopping spree. Like its River North and West Loop siblings, upscale vintage dinner energy (or UVDE) is a part of Armitage Alehouse’s DNA.
Fantastic food is another family trait, and this menu shares quite a few dishes with its siblings, like a juicy wagyu burger (Au Cheval, Gilt Bar, Bavette's) and truffle bucatini (Ciccio Mio, Gilt Bar, Trivoli Tavern). But the must-order is the pot pie. They have a variety of rotating fillings which are all delicious and as comforting as Thanksgiving dinner, minus the dreaded political debates with your uncle. Save room for the sticky date cake too—it’s sweet and rich, but won’t require an emergency root canal afterwards. The only missteps are unfortunately also the exclusives: Indian dishes. The chicken tikka masala and the lamb spread with naan both taste monotonously sweet or salty, with each bite feeling like tepid deja vu.
Armitage Alehouse is full of memorable old-timey charm, and incredible pub food. It’s perfect for a special anniversary date, a celebratory dinner with friends, or just because you really wanted an excuse to wear a statement hat in public. Just make sure to plan two weeks ahead and have your reservation-booking finger stretched and at the ready around 8:59 a.m.
Steak And Anchovy Tartare
From “fresh and flavorful” to “mushy and questionable”, the quality of steak tartare is extremely important not just for taste, but to avoid an unwanted, pricey trip to the hospital. Luckily, the steak tartare here is fantastic—with a light salty and peppery taste, a creamy yolk, umami-packed anchovy mayo, and thick pieces of warm bread. Though using the bread to make a tartare sandwich might feel a bit unhinged, you won’t regret it.
Stonefired Naan Bread With Lamb Spread
Let’s start with the good: the naan is fantastic. Perfectly pillowy and seasoned with savory zaatar, we’d gladly snack on loaves of this by itself. Unfortunately, the lamb spread tastes imbalanced and leaves much to be desired. It has a strong sweetness that overpowers the flavors of the lamb and vegetables like that one teammate that hijacks a group presentation and treats it like an SNL opening monologue.
Whether it’s oxtail and red wine, steak and ale, or classic chicken and gravy, any of their rotating pies are rich and delicious. Each one has a buttery crust with a marrow bone baked in the center—an impressive marvel of pot pie design—plus a silky bed of mashed potatoes that you wish was sold in adult human size at Bed Bath and Beyond. Get this.
Yes, this is basically the same burger that you can find at Au Cheval, Gilt Bar, Bavette’s, etc. But that’s 100% a good thing. Two thin, fantastically griddled wagyu patties, American cheese, crisp pickles and onions, and a creamy and tangy dijonaise all come together to form the platonic ideal of a burger—this isn’t an exaggeration, it’s a fact.
At another restaurant, seeing only one pasta dish on the menu is probably a red flag that makes you immediately turn the page. But here, the only reason why you should be on alert is because the truffle bucatini is excellent. It’s a simple combination of pecorino romano and truffle, but its balanced richness and creaminess makes this a must order to share, or better yet, as a personal entree.
Chicken Tikka Masala
We want to like this, but eating it is like trying to keep a conversation going with a random person at a party who only responds with one word answers. We kept taking multiple bites to try and find some redeeming quality, but the only response we got was one-dimensional saltiness.
Sticky Date Cake
When you see this heaping pile of cake and ice cream, your first thought might be, “this is a lot.” But after your first bite, you’ll be surprised that despite being sweet and rich, everything is well-balanced and doesn’t cross the line into sugar coma territory. The warm cake is contrasted nicely by the cold brown butter ice cream, which has just enough savoriness to balance the toffee sauce. If you’re looking for a dessert nightcap, this is it.