A few weeks ago we went to the last concert of the season of the Chicago Sinfonietta, whose main performance venue is Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville. Earlier that day, it was a Friday; I decided that we should go out to dinner beforehand. I remembered My JD telling me the Two Brothers Brewing had opened a new restaurant in downtown Naperville, IL. I suggested we go there, and then promptly made reservations.
The Craftsman by Two Brothers, a local craft brewery based in Warrenville, IL, is in a 3-story brick building in downtown Naperville. Each floor is a different concept; the first is a breakfast, small bar area, with coffee, cocktails and breakfast items in the morning. The second floor, “Modern Tavern” is just that. Sleekly decorated with wood and metal, two long tables run down the middle of the room. There are booths on either side. The wall behind us, that we thought was made of drywall was actually covered in felt. The third floor is a craft cocktail bar, with a speakeasy style and a rooftop patio.
We decided to eat at the Modern Tavern. The menu is completely different than that of their Tap House restaurant in Warrenville, IL. The Modern Tavern features a locally sourced menu that changes every four to six weeks and wine and cocktail lists. The Craftsman has in on-site butcher who hand pats the burgers, and ages steaks in a Himalayan Salt Cellar, which is on display on the first floor.
Our magnificent dinner started with cocktails; I had the Lavender Lemon Splash (fresh lemon juice, lavender bitters and a sprig of rosemary), and my JD had an Old Fashioned. We then moved to a Tuna Poke appetizer with wonton chips. The tuna was drizzled with a chipotle sauce that was just spicy enough. The entrée menu at the Modern Tavern is diverse and has things I don’t usually see on menus like lamb meatballs on a bed of quinoa dried cranberries drizzled with a light yogurt sauce. We had to forego dessert to get to the Sinfonietta.
Mei-Ann Chen, the conductor of the Sinfonietta is an expressive conductor whose orchestra constantly surprises; at the Day of the Dead concert in October, the orchestra performed Night on Bald Mountain accompanied by original silent footage from the film of the same name. At that same concert, which also happened to be Game 4 of the 2016 World Series, and the Chicago Cubs first appearance in 110 years, Chen donned a Cubs ball cap and led the strings section in Take Me out to the Ballgame. In February 2017, at the Martin Luther King Tribute Concert, the orchestra performed Beethoven’s Ode to Joy with a full choir. For their last concert of the season, Rightness in the Rhythm, 100 years of jazz and symphony, they effortlessly combined the sounds of Joplin and Gershwin with sounds of a symphony. The finale featured the Marcus Roberts Trio collaborating on a rousing rendition of Rhapsody in Blue.
The Sinfonietta does about five original concerts per year. Each concert is performed once at Wentz, and once Orchestra Hall in downtown Chicago on south Michigan Avenue.
Going to a new restaurant and a magnificent concert made our our impromptu date night feel like a vacation. It was a great way to end an exhausting and arduous week.
Going to the Craftsman was a spontaneous decision. The following day we already had plans to go to the Tap Room. Check back soon to read about our visit to the Tap Room on Day 2 of Two Brothers in Two Days.