I may not have been writing much lately but I have been eating. I’ve traveled a bit this summer and it makes me happy to know we have such great food here. I know but sometimes I forget because I’m spoiled. Speaking of outside my door, I can’t wait for Dawson to open because it is steps from my front door!
So here are my thoughts and experiences on some of the places I’ve been lately.
Dillman’s - don’t call it a
When I honestly walked up for the first time, I thought from a distance why the hell is there a valet? Then I saw the décor and muttered, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Did he seriously get a deal on restaurant interiors when he opened Gilt? All I know is any other future restaurant opened under the Sodikoff name I’ll expect them ALL to have the same aesthetic – as well as bone marrow and foie gras. I’m so glad he dropped delicatessen from the name because ‘stupid me’ thought it would look, maybe even feel somewhat like a deli! This is the deli for Mr Peanut and Mr Monopoly – top hat, monocle and cane required!
Ok, stepping off my soapbox…sliding in to my red velvet chair
Once you get past the striking similarities to other Sodikoff restaurants the menu does have a turn and bend to classic deli food. There are the usual suspects from other Sodikoff restaurants but the spin is just a little different. I stayed away from them and stuck to the basics – corned beef, French dip, latkes, kanish – oh MY!
The corned beef as others have said is solid and a really good sandwich. Both that and the French Dip are two sandwiches piled high with meat and served on great fresh bread. The latkes were really good and better than some other deli’s I’ve been to lately. I wasn’t a huge fan of the kanish and probably wouldn’t order it again. The dessert of rice pudding was sweet and rich, a nice finish.
I went in again for brunch not too long after and enjoyed the corned beef hash, the gravy is killer and split the burger. It isn’t an Au Cheval burger but it is good and worthy of ordering. In a town with a lot of burgers, it is better than most! Another spot I’m adding to the rotation.
Dillman’s – 354 W Hubbard
Parson’s Chicken & Fish
The Fried Chicken version of Big Star is located in Logan Square. With an ample beer and bourbon, list you can enjoy a nice cold drink while you wait for a table if you have to. You may spot a visiting chef, “who’s helping out.” We had a larger group and sat at a booth inside – but ONLY when everyone was there. God forbid we take 10 minutes to order while a friend arrives. I know I may be picky about this and Parson’s isn’t the only place that does it but am I the only one who gets annoyed when the hostess gives me that disdainful look of “where is the last person?” it feels like my mother is seating me.
We ordered a number of sides and apps to start. They were all rather good from the hush puppies, maybe the best in the city, to the Baccala fritters and the Shrimp Toast. If I went back again, I would go for these dishes alone. Everyone ordered on their own for the mains and being a fried chicken lover I went with the half chicken. The chicken was good but I didn’t have that zen moment others seem to talk about. It felt greasy and the seasoning was just ok. I’m not one for uber crunchy fried chicken but this was more let down then enthusiastic, heart clogging euphoria. I’d go back for a High Life and a Hush Puppie.
Parson’s Chicken and Fish – 2952 W Armitage
Two – because One is the loneliest number
Two took over in the formerly cursed ‘Black Sheep’ space over a year ago. They’ve exercised the demons of food bullshit and are producing some really tasty approachable dishes. The first time I went in on my own and had a variety of solid dishes – because dishes are meant to be shared here.
The Heirloom Tomato Salad isn’t going to reinvent any wheel but the season for tomatoes is now and burrata should be tomatoes best friend. The kitchen executes the dish well and they don’t try and do too much. Other dishes to order would be the Mussels with house made sausage, Duck Fat Potato Croquettes and the Scallop on the lighter side of the menu. Someone is reading this and thinking, “Nice creative selections ass.” They aren’t, but at times I feel many places who say they cook simple food over manipulate through sous-vide or foams. This is food being cooked with technique in a traditional way and it’s nice to enjoy a dinner out without determining how something was accomplished. It’s comforting!
The Duck Egg Pasta has been on the menu since the open but for me it was outshined by the Half Roasted Chicken. Pan roasted with gravy you will dip your fingers in. Nothing rocket science about it but if cooked incorrectly an epic and comical failure. They do it correctly and very well.
My first visit was on my own and dessert was an odd flub of service – still scratching my head. But, my second visit was on a media visit and the food was just as consistent as the first plus I got to try some sweets. The Chocolate Red Wine Cake is nice and not a molten cake. Apparently, some people get disappointed even though it doesn’t claim to be lava like. I also liked the Homemade Pretzel Donuts.
Two is a good spot with staying power that executes food well and doesn’t break the bank.
Two – 1132 W Grand
Some other favorites I’ve been hitting that may help jog your memory on a place to visit – GT Fish for the Fish Sandwich at lunch, just about any pasta or pizza at Piccolo Sognio (go early to sit outside while you still can), the Au Cheval burger is still great – in case you were wondering, and L Patron is still my taco go to.
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org