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Mystery Diner: Beer, burgers, and bacon abound at Tap House Grill

It's hard to believe it's been this long, but Tap House Grill has been serving a variety of tasty food and thirst-quenching brews in downtown Oswego for almost nine years now.

The restaurant – which operates a total of eight locations in the Chicago suburbs – opened up in the summer of 2008 following the closure of Emmett's Ale House at 123 Washington St., at the corner of Washington and Harrison just east of the Fox River.

The Mystery Diner has been to the Tap House Grill on a few occasions, so he was familiar with its menu and had his favorites: the deep fried cheese curds from Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, the Tipsy Stout burger with its smear of Merkt's cheese spread and crispy onion strings, for example.

But on this latest trip, the Mystery Diner saw the Tap House had several new entries on its menu, and, as a person who enjoys a challenge, he decided to try a few new things and was not disappointed in the least.

However, the Mystery Diner started with an old favorite: a cup of the Tap House Grill's beer cheese soup, which features creamy Wisconsin aged mild cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses blended together with a local pale ale. It's topped with a crusty crouton, which is a nice touch.

For an appetizer, the Mystery Diner defied medical experts by ordering a new menu item: cheddar-stuffed bacon. The geniuses in the kitchen take cheddar cheese, wrap it in applewood smoked bacon, beer batter it and then deep fry it. It is, frankly, a taste explosion that should be illegal in several states.

But the Mystery Diner wasn't finished yet. He decided to order a sandwich to finish his meal, and again, tried a new menu item: a bratwurst Reuben sandwich. A beer-poached, griddle-seared bratwurst is topped with sauerkraut, dijon mustard, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on toasted rye bread. Absolutely perfect, it blends the traditional flavors of a Reuben with the taste of summer that is the bratwurst.

Those who drink beer will be satisfied with the many, many options that are available on the Tap House Grill's beer menu, which features everything from Pabst to Three Floyds to Boulevard 80 Acre (their beer of the month in May).

For the warmer months, the restaurant offers a patio along the Washington and Harrison sides of the building.

The Tap House Grill is a jewel in downtown Oswego. The Mystery Diner advises you to head on down, find a spot on the patio, and order some cheddar-stuffed bacon.

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.

If you go

What: Tap House Grill

Where: 123 Washington St., Oswego

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Information: Visit or call 630-383-2020

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