Michelin stars are among the most revered, sought-after distinctions in the dining world. Scores of articles, TV shows, and movies have been dedicated to the extreme difficulty of earning one, as well as the extreme honor of finally succeeding. These stars, which have the ability to cement a restaurant’s status as iconic, come perhaps curiously from a tire company. According to TripSavy, back in 1900, Michelin started releasing guide books to areas in order to promote road-tripping. In 1926, they started publishing these guides with restaurant recommendations, placing single stars next to fine-dining establishments. Today, stars denote that a restaurant is worth a stop. They’re instant shorthand to tell potential diners that this business is special, and they won’t be disappointed. So, it’s no wonder that chefs, critics, and patrons, alike, place such a high value on these commendations.
Now that we’ve set the scene for just how big of a deal Michelin stars are, let’s get seriously excited over the fact that Moody Tongue Brewing in Chicago has just won not one but two Michelin stars. That’s huge on its own, but consider the fact that Moody Tongue is only the second brewpub in America to win any Michelin stars at all, and because the first brewpub is now closed, it’s the only brewpub in the country where you can go feast on such acclaimed fare. Beer: it can be fancy and boundary-pushing, too! That is, of course, when it’s being served alongside innovative, beautifully executed cuisine like that of Moody Tongue chef Jared Wentworth, who actually has a whopping eleven Michelin stars under his belt from throughout his career.
Back in January before this year’s stars were awarded, Eater Chicago reported that the Chicago Tribune’s food critic Phil Vettel and beer writer Josh Noel speculated Moody Tongue would win at least one star because of the outstanding tasting menu, food quality, and beer pairings. Vettel was especially fond of grilled octopus with lemon-saffron aioli over slow-simmered eggplant and chick peas; “magazine-cover pretty” beet tartare with spruce-infused ricotta, gelled egg yolk, and mustard seed; chicken liver mousse with “yummy” pecan toast; celery root and ricotta-stuffed rotollini contributed by sous chef Emily Phillips; an “exceptional” pork chop with pears, cabrales cheese and fennel conserva; and an “imaginative bouillabaisse” with prawns, mussels, striped bass, and a scallop-mousse and king crab cannelloni. And that’s just the a la carte menu, before you even get to the famed Moody Tongue tasting menu, which diners can instead choose in order to be wowed with inventive bites.
Beer from brewmaster Jared Rouben isn’t just expertly paired with the food, in the form of set pairings for the tasting menu and recommendations for the a la carte menu, but it’s also woven into the dishes, itself. Vettel writes that Wentworth plays off the whole “beer is liquid bread” concept with lots of stellar inclusions of different breads. Plus, mussels are steamed in Moody Tongue’s lemon saison and a lime-pineapple sherbet features a toasted rice lager pour-over, just to name a few beer-centric showstoppers. In Josh Noel’s section of the Chicago Tribune review, there are intriguing references to how much of an all-around experience Moody Tongue creates for diners with the beer pairings and even education on beer history and brewing.
It’s really no wonder, then, that Moody Tongue has won these two Michelin stars, but it is quite a thrill to see a member of the craft beer world earn this kind of distinction, and in doing so, really present a whole new image of beer as something truly special and elevated. It is also quite a thrill that TapRm gets to work with Moody Tongue--yes, we’re so going to brag about that.
There’s a much bigger headline to these bragging rights, though, which is that shopping Moody Tongue on TapRm offers the ability to experience a form of the brewpub’s double Michelin-starred greatness even if you can’t make it to Chicago at the moment. There are plenty of unique, stellar brews from Rouben to choose from, and we recommend you channel the beer education vibes of the Moody Tongue bar and dining room by getting acquainted with Rouben’s process in this November 2020 interview on the blog. Bookmark the Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison, the very one used in some dishes on the brewpub’s menu, as well as the Bourbon Barrel-Aged 12 Layer Cake Imperial Stout, a drinkable version of Moody Tongue’s famed dessert.We’re raising of exquisite beer to Moody Tongue’s well-deserved success, and we’re so glad that you can join us in doing so. It’s not every day that you can treat yourself to a Michelin star-worthy feast with beer--except that, oh, wait, now it actually could be any and every day!