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The Ruin Daily Is Ready to Meet Your Sandwich Needs

Weekdays only, you can eat this blue cheese-covered cauliflower sandwich and a host of other bread-based delights.

Buffalo cauliflower sandwich at the Ruin Daily   Photo: Courtesy of the Ruin Daily

Yesterday, 16” On Center (Moneygun, Revival Food Hall, the Promontory) pulled one of its signature stealth openings—but not before giving Chicago the chance to chat up the masterminds behind it.

Here’s what we learned about the Ruin Daily (328 S. Jefferson St., West Loop) from chef Gabino “Bino” Ottoman and managing partner Bruce Finkelman.

The concept

They’re calling it a “sandwich shop and day bar.” Open weekdays starting at 7 a.m., in the shadow of the Clinton Blue Line stop, the object is to lure morning commuters, office lunchers, and happy hour–goers.

The chef

“I wanted to be either a firefighter or a cook,” Ottoman says. “I don’t like exercising much, so I became a cook.” Makes sense. The California native clocked time at Le Bernardin, ABC Kitchen, and the Breslin in New York before moving to Chicago. “I had two weeks to find a job [after moving here],” he explains. “I lived right near Longman & Eagle; walked out my door and it was right there.” So there he worked for two years, before relocating within the company to serve as chef de cuisine at Saint Lou’s.

The breakfast and caffeine

Ottoman’s smoked turkey sandwich (scrambled egg and maple-infused butter on ciabatta) is the most substantial breakfast offering. There are also pastries—including doughnuts and bagels—by Mindy Segal, grab-and-go items, and smoothies. Revival Café-Bar’s coffee guru Eric Turner heads up the caffeinated offerings, which include espresso drinks, pour-overs, and batch-brewed drip coffee—all from Metric Coffee.

The sandwiches and sides

Here’s where Ottoman really flexes his guns, with a rotating selection of 10 sandwiches, plus salads and his riffs on deli-style sides. Finkelman calls the menu an “exploration into what should and shouldn’t do between two pieces of bread”—and that’s led to creations like a classic corned beef Reuben (sauerkraut, thousand island, and Swiss on marble rye) that Ottoman predicts will become his signature; a veggie-friendly Buffalo Blue Cauliflower (blue cheese dressing, shredded lettuce, and celery on a sesame challah bun); and the decidedly cheffed-up Little Magician (rare roast beef, foie butter, horsey sauce, and pickled onions on an Italian baguette).

Though the bread is outsourced, “We’re making all of our own corned beef, turkey, chicken, and ham, and doing all of our own deli and pickles. I just did a 50-pound patch of dill pickles,” Ottoman says. Sides, which include a sun-dried tomato-pesto potato salad, are “as creative as the sandwiches,” adds Finkelman.

The booze and snacks

“As a company, we really like drinking,” Finkelman notes. It shows, and like its sister concepts, the Ruin Daily promises to look pretty great after dark. Things will remain fast-casual and Dylan Stewart (Revival Café-Bar) leads the bar program, which gets cranking at 3 p.m. and includes beer, wine, and around a dozen specialty cocktails.

For happy hour grazers, there’s a roster of stuff that Ottoman labels “easy to share,” including cheese and deli meat plates and a soft pretzel.

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