I was happy to see The Forge move into downtown Sycamore last year. It seemed like the new location and larger space would be a good fit to complement the more vibrant downtown area.
My wife, son and I walked in early on a weekday night and seated ourselves at a table. We were immediately greeted by our waitress, a food menu and a drink menu.
I've been to The Forge's brewhouse, located at 216 N. Sixth St. in DeKalb, to get myself a growler of some of their best beer offerings. My personal favorites are the Coal Dust, a black IPA, and the Diamond Dust, which has been described to me as the Coal Dust's big brother.
But I was in the mood to try a couple of different beers on the menu this night. The Forge offers flights to try four different beers, but I was looking for more than a flight on this night. I ordered a full pour ($5) of the Just Dunk It, a dunkelweisen described as wheat, creamy and fully bodied. It definitely lived up to the billing and if you're in the mood for something like that, it will hit the spot.
If you aren't interested in a beer, The Forge also makes a tasty homemade root beer.
One of the running jokes in my family is how much I enjoy soft pretzels. Anywhere we go – restaurants, a ballgame, a mall – if a soft pretzel is on the menu, let's be honest, I'm getting it. The Forge has a full order of four soft pretzels ($6.50), plus beer cheese and a signature mustard that is grainy and perfect for dipping.
I've got to tell you, I'd rank these pretzels up against any soft pretzel out there. They come out piping hot, so you've got to take a couple of minutes to let them cool a bit. But it's just about everything you want in a soft pretzel, with the right amount of salt.
We put in our order for two pizzas, a classic margherita ($12) and a chicken bacon ranch ($16). These pizzas are cooked in a brick oven and made to order. We had a decent view of the brick oven from our table, and it's always cool to see the hard-working staff in action cooking up something delicious.
The 14-inch pizzas serve 2-3, so we knew we were coming home with leftovers, but not as many as we thought. The chicken bacon ranch pizza has a sweet, tangy ranch that balances well with the white sauce, chicken, bacon, pepper jack, spinach and red onion. We opted for the jalapeno ranch to give it an extra kick.
I'm a big fan of their margherita pizza. The mozzarella is fresh, the tomato is high quality and gives you some necessary acid, and the basil and garlic give it a wonderful finish.
I wasn't done trying out the drink menu, though. So I ended the meal with a half ($3) pour of the Brick Top, an English-style extra special bitter beer that includes some malty and caramel notes. It was my favorite beer of the night and I was glad I tried something new, because there are a good number of options of locally brewed beer.
The aesthetics of the newer location make The Forge a great place to bring family or friends. Some of the beers are featured in quality art on the walls. The brick walls fit the ambiance of the place, and if you get a table up front at one of the high-tops, you get a great view of downtown. We'll definitely return.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Daily Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Forge of Sycamore
WHERE: 327 W. State St., Sycamore
HOURS: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday
INFORMATION: Call 815-991-9760 or visit theforgeofsycamore.com