We sipped those as we looked over the entrees. The Awesome Brownie was great, a little sweet and not too heavy but a smooth drink.
As for the menu, it's not too large but they locally identify where the products come from.
My friend ordered the Duke's burger ($14), which is ground bison with chipotle bacon jam, Duke's mayonnaise, white cheddar and tomato on a pretzel bun. On the side, he ordered the tots. It's sourced from Blackwing Quality Meats and Slagel Family Farm.
I went with the chicken sandwich ($13) with mac and cheese on the side. It's topped with bacon, smoked cheddar, chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato on a toasted pretzel bun.
Overall, the menu has five sandwiches - turkey avocado ($13), bbq pork ($15), cuban ($14) and a falafel pita ($12) - and three burger choices along with four salads and five entrees. They range from Duke's grain bowl ($15), which is vegetarian and gluten free, to meatloaf ($16).
First, the appetizer arrived, and these were certainly not the cheese curds you get at faster food establishments.
The cheese was soft and melted yet it maintained its squeaky cheese integrity. It's a cornbread batter with alehouse mustard aioli on the side. We polished them off quickly. And the second they were gone, our entrees replaced them.
As my friend said, the way you can tell a good sandwich is if it's running down your hand.
Well, the chipotle mayo on my chicken was doing a little of that. But I was OK with it, because the sandwich was complete and delicious. The chicken wasn't too dry, like can happen with chicken sandwiches sometimes, and the sauce helped bring it all together.
As for the burger, he couldn't have been happier. it was cooked just the way he had requested and chipotle bacon jam gave it some kick.
We each ordered a second draft brew - he got the Awesome Brown while I ordered Scorched Earth's Mista Dobalina New England IPA - to finish off the meal.
As with most of the beers I've had from Scorched Earth, it was great. Hazy, with a hint of lemon and other fruits. It's a great summer beer is what I'm trying to say.
So if you're ready to have a good meal, and you're willing to clean up a little beforehand, Duke's is an outstanding option for you.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. 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: Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen, Crystal Lake
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m. Friday-Saturday
WHERE: 110 North Main, Crystal Lake
INFORMATION: Call 815-356-9980 or visit www.thedukeabides.com/