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Cultivate By Forbidden Root Opens In Former Band Of Bohemia Spot In Ravenswood

Malt Row’s newest brewpub features vegan-friendly options prepared on a wood-fired hearth alongside craft beers. 

Brian Krajack, director of operations, stands behind the bar at Cultivate by Forbidden Root, 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave., on Dec. 17, 2021.
Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
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RAVENSWOOD — Malt Row’s newest brewpub features vegan-friendly options prepared on a wood-fired hearth alongside craft beers. 

Cultivate by Forbidden Root, 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave., opened right after Thanksgiving in the former location of Band of Bohemia, which closed last year due to bankruptcy.

Owner Robert Finkel bought much of Band of Bohemia’s equipment at auction. At the time, Finkel and his colleagues spoke to the building landlords about possibly opening a brewpub at the address, said Director of Operations Brian Krajack.

“We loved the layout and the space, and obviously Band of Bohemia had amazing equipment and [it] was [a] really good opportunity for us,” Krajack said.

Forbidden Root opened its first brewpub in West Town in 2016 and has a location in Columbus, Ohio. The team spent more than a year doing renovations at Ravenswood Avenue.

“We only kept the booths and the two bars. Everything else is different,” Krajack said. “We wanted a kind of German beer hall vibe.”

Executive Chef Carlos Cruz uses the hearth at Cultivate by Forbidden Root, 4710 N. Ravenswood Ave., on Dec. 17, 2021.

Executive Chef Carlos Cruz created the menu.

Cruz, who grew up outside of Houston, has a fondness for wood-fired cooking, especially the meals his father would make on the family grill. When Cruz tosses chili-rubbed flanken style short ribs on the metal grill top of the hearth to sizzle, he talks about how this recipe is an homage to his father’s barbecue.

“I love cooking on an open fire. This is the second restaurant I’ve been able to cook with an open fire and as a child my dad was always grilling on barbecue pits,” Cruz said. “I gravitate towards that style of cooking.”

Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
Chili rubbed flanken-style short ribs served with raw sweet potato salad and a walnut-date pesto.

Cruz previously worked in the kitchens of James Beard award-winning chef Christopher Gross and Chef Giuseppe Tentori of Boka Restaurant Group.

The menu features items like smoked trout rillette and a porchetta French dip sandwich, as well as vegetarian and vegan options like grilled broccolini and twice-fried cauliflower. Cruz said he enjoys the challenge of creating a flavorful dish that is also vegetarian or vegan. 

Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
A roasted pepita spread served with brined and pickled veggies and roti.

Krajack describes the beer offerings as “rustic, farmhouse ales,” including Just Ben, a Kveik farmhouse ale with kudzu flower and chicory, and Free Town, a Danish rye lager with spicy notes from the rye in the grain bill. 

By moving into the former Band of Bohemia space, Cultivate has room for about 50 barrels to grow its barrel-aged brewing on a scale that wouldn’t be possible at the West Town location. 

“We have really cool armagnac, cognac and madeira barrels, and our goal is to get some really untraditional barrels for aging beer,” Krajack said. “I’m very excited to grow this program and use different yeast strains that Belgium and Scandinavia used to use and take some different riffs on that like we’re doing with Free Town.”

In addition to the main restaurant area, Cultivate has a side taproom accessible that can host smaller events. Krajack said he hopes the taproom, which will not serve food, becomes a neighborhood hangout where people gather to play boardgames with friends and catch up over a beer. 

“There will be no food but there’ll be a couple of wine options, a couple batch cocktails, but it’s not a full bar. It’s meant to be as neighborhood as neighborhood gets,” Krajack said. “We’ll also have a lot of guest taps from our friend breweries.”

Go to the brewpub’s website for more information about Cultivate by Forbidden Root’s hours and to make reservations.

Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
A porchetta French dip sandwich.

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