Personality is everything when it comes to generating a welcoming and relaxing ambiance, and the folks down at Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen in Crystal Lake Illinois have it down pat. They manage to appeal to an expansive audience, utilizing appealing and disarming elements all the way down to the details such as naming their website thedukeabides.com
Presenting themselves as an eco-conscious gastropub, the team at Duke's brings the standards for american comfort bar food up quite a few notches reaching the threshold of gourmet quality, going so far as to showcase twenty five of the farms from whence come their ingredients, over twenty of which are in Illinois, most of which are in the immediate Crystal Lake area. They label their ingredients and the waiters and waitresses explain what comes from which farms. They've even taken steps to encourage the vegan options by offering them for half price on Mondays.
This will remind the omnivores of the world that not every dish needs dairy and meat in it to be delicious and functional. They pride themselves on featuring such dishes as their falafel pocket, the house made roasted jalapeno hummus topped with olive tapenade, feta and paprika, flat breads, gazpacho, and chili, all of which either come vegan or offer the option.
Proud of everything they offer, they select a beer of the month from their extensive list of over twenty types on tap and one hundred and thirty two varieties in bottles. Every Tuesday the beer of the month is a dollar off, and the rest of the week is filled with a variegated selection of specials such as craft beer specials on Wednesdays, wine bottles half off on Thursdays, and weekend well drink specials.
The calendar is full of fascinating fun featuring standards such as trivia night on Wednesdays and Karaoke on Fridays, a recurring group of step dancers, but also such unexpected events as fruit and veggie classes for kids and Beer School once a month. Another featured monthly event is Green Drinks night, which is a national organization that features informal informative interactive discussion of what they call "greening the future" This monthly information session addresses such topics as home composting, climate change, energy efficiency, and sustainability.
Chef Zak Dolezal clarified in one meeting that he became an accidental sustainability enthusiast through his passion for delicious food. Initially purchasing ingredients from the local farmers markets, he eventually had to start making agreements with the farmers so he could be assured the bulk and quality he needed to meet the standards he expected from himself. For all their progressive efforts they have earned themselves a three star green dining certification, and several other awards and recognitions.
The musical selections they offer are of similar high quality with such regular features as the Rick Embach Jazz Duo, and Jim and Justin, an acoustic duo known for their diverse capacities incorporating styles ranging from Tom Petty and Paul Simon to Mumford and Sons. Jim and Justin are also known for their crowd involvement and comedy songs. Thursdays are Jazz night, and weekends generally feature musicians local to the Crystal Lake area.
The original brick walls and refurbished wood floors reinforce the ambiance of down home local friendly informal pub with an undeniable flourish of style and quality. Zak Dolezal has more than proven himself as chef and general manager by reinventing and not only pursuing but achieving new levels of quality and local integration without losing any old customers, yet always finding new ways to appeal to new diners.