• Julia Thiel
  • That’s a Three Floyds logo on the Lone Wolf sign.

Lone Wolf has capitalized on the West Loop’s popularity as a dining destination, positioning itself as a place to get pre- or postmeal drinks and snacks—or to have a drink while waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant. It may be falling victim to its own success, though: on a recent Friday evening all the tables and nearly all the bar seats were full by 5:30 PM and stayed that way (with plenty of turnover) for at least the next couple of hours. There’s no host; instead, a sign hanging just inside the door tells patrons, “Please feel free to seat yourself and drink whiskey.” With a little luck, or a lot of hovering near people who look like they’re about to leave, you may be able to do just that.

Cocktails, designed by Stephen Cole of the Barrelhouse Flat, are divided into aperitifs—a trio of bubbly drinks with sorbet called sgroppino—and digestifs, which in this case means several amaro-heavy cocktails. The No. 2, a strawberry, hibiscus, and lime sgroppino with tequila sorbet, was light and refreshing, smelling intensely of strawberry (maybe thanks to the garnish on the side of the glass) and tasting less boozy than it really was. In addition to a few wines by the glass and several bottled beers, there are eight taps for beer and cider, half of them devoted to Three Floyds. Pouring Gumballhead and Zombie Dust is respectable enough, but Lone Wolf appears to be the only place in Chicago you can get Immutable Dusk, a black IPA brewed in conjunction with the band Pelican. The rest of the tap selection is equally impressive, currently including offerings from Perennial, Meantime, Half Acre, and Virtue Cider.

Pleasant House Bakery supplies the food, a brief list of bar snacks and savory pies. If you’re familiar with the meal-size pies that Pleasant House serves at its Bridgeport restaurant, you may be surprised by the shrunk-down version at Lone Wolf, a hockey puck less than half the size of the original (though the $8 price tag is the same). Fortunately, the quality is unchanged, the crust light and flaky. We had less luck with the bland vegetarian chili, but Welsh rarebit—thick slices of toasted bread generously topped with beer-cheese sauce and broiled—was satisfyingly savory. For dessert there’s exactly one option: two oatmeal lace cookies with dark chocolate sandwiched in the middle. It’s buttery and surprisingly light, the kind of thing you’d order if you wanted something sweet but didn’t have room left for a whole dessert.

Lone Wolf, 806 W. Randolph, 312-600-9391, lonewolftavern.com