Two for Brew

Beer-friendly food at Bangers & Lace and Blokes & Birds

Two newcomers are upping their neighborhoods' beer game with sophisticated pub food to match extensive global beer lists.

The Angry Boy brown ale ($9), from Japan's Baird brewery, immediately caught our eye at Wicker Park's Bangers & Lace–finally, something other than Hitachino! Pair the dark, caramely brew with the smoked venison sausage, tucked into a challah roll with whiskey-spiked apple jam, bacon, pickled onions and jalapeños ($9).

Sip a lighter, lively brew, like a pint of Jolly Pumpkin's Calabaza Blanca ($8), with excellent drinking snacks: chile-dusted corn nuts ($4) and a thick pretzel with house-made mustard ($4). 1670 W. Division St.; 773-252-6499 or bangersandlacechicago.com

The menu at Lakeview's Blokes & Birds gives a heavy nod to Britain, with pubby dishes like shepherd's pie, mussels vindaloo, and spice-rich chicken tikka masala. An iceberg wedge, crowned with sweet, Drambuie-braised onions ($8), makes a fine starter to a meal of fish and chips, with steaming, flaky haddock encased in a crisp shell of beer batter ($10; or go Tuesdays for all-you-can-eat fish and chips for $12).

Chips are limp and passable–get your spud fix with a side of rumbledethumps (rich mashed potatoes laced with kale; $5) instead. To drink: a beer from the motherland, like the Abbot Ale from Green King Brewery in Suffolk. 3343 N. Clark St.; 773-472-5252 or blokesandbirdschicago.com