Two years after the closing of The Brown Bottle (221 W. Galena St., in Schlitz Park), the historic tavern has returned to service. It’s now managed by F. Street Hospitality, which also manages the Pizza Man restaurants and Bottle House 42 (1130 N. Ninth St.), and the menu includes a Friday fish fry – something it was known for in previous incarnations.
A little bit about the history: The Brown Bottle first opened as the tasting room for Schlitz Brewery in 1938. After the Schlitz name was sold to Pabst Brewing, and the large brewery left, the tasting room was turned into the Brown Bottle. In 2004, the pub closed and a year later, it became Libiamo Restaurant & Hall. That establishment was opened by Dean Cannestra, who was also co-owner of Nessun Dorma in Riverwest. Things changed again seven years later, when Libiamo closed. In 2014, the space became The Brown Bottle once again, until its closing in 2019.
The menu at the new Brown Bottle is casual and beer-friendly. It includes small plates ($8-$16), soups and salads ($7-$12), sandwiches ($9-$15) and large plates ($14-$45). Among the items are mussels, wild boar meatballs, grilled peach and Bibb lettuce salad, charred tomato bisque, char-grilled burger, crispy mushroom Reuben, steak frites, pan-roasted salmon and five-cheese mac and cheese with fried potato crust. The Friday fish fry features beer-battered Atlantic cod, beer-battered lake perch and lemon baked cod served with kohlrabi slaw, tartar and lemon, and salt rye bread stick ($16).
Schlitz beer is still available on tap. Beyond beer, there’s a selection of bourbons and whiskeys and a cocktail menu that highlights house-made blueberry syrups, local bitters and barrel-aged old fashioneds.
As for the cool decor from the past, much of it remains. “We chose to do very few renovations and updates to the building,” said vice president of F Street Hospitality Kaelyn Cervero, by press release. “Part of its charm is the history shown here, including the original wooden wall and door carvings, the bar, and pictures of celebrities who visited the brewery throughout the decades.”
Hours: Mon-Sat, beginning at 11 a.m. for lunch and dinner. Happy hour: Mon-Fri 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.