Mulling over the beer menu at Palmer Place is enough to make any beer aficionado's mouth water. The downtown La Grange spot boasts 36 beers on draft and well over 100 brews in the menu's "bottled beers of the world" section. The tap choices include many of the usual suspects, but also a revolving door of unusual offerings like Peak Organic Brewery's Nut Brown Ale from Portland, Maine and Lagunitas Brewery's Brown Shugga Sweet Release Ale (a potent 9.9 percent alcohol beverage brewed in Petaluma, California). You can go international with bottled beers from China, Belgium, New Zealand, Nicaragua and about 20 other countries. There are also rarities like Samuel Adams Utopias, "the world's strongest beer" at 25 percent alcohol (it's comparable to a port or sherry, but costs a whopping $15 for a 2-ounce snifter).
Aside from the beer, the restaurant's best attribute is its "bier garten." In the back, there's a double-decker patio with a brick floor and a large brick wall full of ivy to the south. It's a great place to kick back, socialize and test out some new beers. The bar recently added liquor to its repertoire, so non-beer drinkers can also enjoy a drink on the patio. Indoors, the bar area has a small bar, several tables and TVs. But when it gets packed and noisy, its close quarters can make it difficult to hold a conversation. For a more intimate setting, visitors can sit up front in the more traditional dining area. The food menu looks great on paper with lots of variety, but it almost always disappoints. If you're there to eat, go with something safe like appetizers or a $9 burger like the Asian Sensation (with teriyaki sauce, pineapple slices and Asian coleslaw) or the Inferno (coated with spices and topped with jalapeno jack cheese).
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jim Collins