For most of my life the corner of River Drive and River Road in Elmwood Park near Marcal was home to the same three establishments. The Riverview Sunoco, where seemingly every single teenager growing up in Elmwood Park worked at one point or another, including me; The Riverview East, which I discussed last week; and the Elmwood Barn, a small restaurant which was the stomping ground of the over 40 crowd in the area.
Sadly, the Elmwood Barn closed its doors one night and those doors remained closed. I don’t know the exact details behind this but one day they were open and the next they were not, and for a long time the dilapidated building remained on the corner closed for business. That is until Mr. Jim Rogers decided that he would open his newest business venture at this location. Slowly but surely while passing by every day I could see the transformation occurring as the old went out and the new came in. Finally, a sign appeared claiming the old Barn was now to be The Twisted Elm Tavern.
Being from the area and still living not 10 minutes away from the Twisted Elm Tavern, I was intrigued at the idea of a new watering hole opening up in my neck of the woods. I expected a small town bar with the same old draught beers and fried foods. My instincts were wrong about the Elm, and in this case that was a wonderful thing. The Twisted Elm offers an ever changing variety of award winning Micro-Brews that would tantalize even the most refined beer connoisseur’s palate, and pairs this surprising beer menu with a unique artisan fare that is not expected in the suburban town of Elmwood Park. In addition to the great beer and food they also offer a lovely selction of wine and spirits that round out the menu nicely.
Much to my surprise, I found that The Twisted Elm Tavern was in fact the area’s first Gastro Pub. If you are not from around this area, the idea of a Gastro Pub in a town like Elmwood Park is much like the idea of a hot girl that likes science fiction novels, you know they could exist but you never thought you would actually run into one. The thought of a Gastro Pub in my neighborhood sent chills down my back, but before this bar became my own, I had to do some further investigation.
When you enter The Twisted Elm Tavern, the bar area is off to the left and is complete with a large chalkboard that the purveyor handwrites the beer selection on. This method is necessary due to the fact that the beer menu changes with every kicked keg. The bar itself is rather large and forms a U-shape around the bartender which can house quite a few people. If there are no bar stools available, which is becoming a problem more often that not as word spreads about the Twisted Elm throughout the area, there are a few tables to handle the over flow.
Every time I have entered this establishment the beer choices have varied and I can always find something new and exciting to imbibe. The best part of their beer selection, is that not one of their taps has ever housed Coors Light or Budweiser, not that I mind these beers for a barbecue, but since I graduated college I have become quite a little beer snob, and the Twisted Elm is not helping cure this ailment.
The Twisted Elm also offers a dining area that is located off to the right of the entrance that has quite a few tables. The menu is somewhat limited but what they do serve has never disappointed me. During my most recent trip, Zoe and I dined on a few selections from the menu. We, of course, ordered a round of drinks to start out with and while we perused the menu, the waiter brought us a basket of bread with a fantastic seasoned butter spread. Zoe ordered the Market Greens salad, $6.00, as an appetizer and the Meatball Sliders, $7.00, for her entrée. I went with the Three Cheese Bacon Mac and Cheese, $7.00, as an appetizer and the Beer Brewed Corned Beef Sandwich, $9.00, for my entrée.
The Market Greens came out first, considering the Mac and Cheese takes about 30 minutes to cook. Zoe thoroughly enjoyed her salad and was impressed by the freshness of the greens themselves. She also highly praised the, what appeared to be homemade, dressing. Shortly after she finished her salad the main course arrived and it both looked and smelled amazing. The Mac and Cheese was served in a small Cast Iron Skillet keeping the tiny shells warm and the cheese gooey. The Sandwich was overflowing with corned beef and was served with a side of grain mustard that was both plentiful and mouth watering. Zoe’s meatball sliders appeared to be larger than the average sliders and looked very appetizing.
All the food tasted amazing. The Mac and Cheese combined with the bacon was heavenly, as the bacon added just the right amount of smoked flavor to the cheese concoction. As for the sandwich, the grain mustard and marbled rye bread flirted with perfection as it mixed with the hefty portion of corned beef. Zoe’s meatball sliders packed a large flavor in a small sandwich and she seemed very satisfied with her selection.
Another nice element to the Twisted Elm is that you can order all the food from the regular menu at the bar or on the Restaurant side. This comes in handy when you arrive at the bar hankering for the munchies but still want to hang out with your friends and watch the game.
Overall, the Twisted Elm has done nothing but impress me since it has opened. The Owner of this establishment is a regular and can be seen nightly conversing with the patrons. The Beer list is always amazing featuring the likes of Stone Brewery, Dogfish Head, and Oskar Blues to name a few. On top of this the Foodie inspired menu has yet to leave me unfulfilled.
With that said, I would be remiss to not mention the pricing at the Twisted Elm Tavern which tends to scare off more than a few of the clientele that walk into this establishment. What must be understood, when dealing with craft beer, is that unlike the domestic watered down swill that is served at dive bars across the land, these beers are created in small batches by beer aficionados. These one of a-kind ales not only taste great but some of them pack the punch of 2 or 3 regular beers. The same basic principal must be afforded to the finely crafted food that the Twisted Elm serves on a daily basis. Bar food that included local fresh ingredients combined with great taste which is Chef prepared does not come along every day, so paying few extra bucks is not that terrible.
If you are looking for a domestic draught beer with a side of Mozzarella Sticks for $4.99 the Twisted Elm Tavern might not be for you, but if you are a foodie with a side of the beer crazies like me this should be your new bar, I know it is mine!
Overall: 4 out of 5
Taste: 4 out of 5
Presentation: 4 out of 5
Value: 3 out of 5