The press so far on American Junkie (15 W. Illinois St., 312-239-0995), scheduled to open March 19, has emphasized the bar half of “bar and restaurant,” or just gone ahead and called the place a club. A big-name chef, however, might put the horse back behind the cart. Kendal Duque, a veteran of Sepia and the historically focused City Tavern, has created a menu he calls “approachable, but with a chef sensibility” for American Junkie. For example, his burger, complemented by bacon, onions, sweet pickles, and aged cheddar, is made from two griddled patties of beef from Pat LaFrieda, the New York–based butcher with foodie cred. A hanger steak sandwich comes with smothered onion, truffle butter, Taleggio cheese, and a brioche roll. Large groups can order a whole smoked pork shoulder. The director of operations, Felipe Ospina (Mercadito, Roka Akor, Untitled), promises tap cocktails, about 16 by-the-glass wines including several sparklings, and 32 draft beers. The whole 320-seat complex sprawls over 17,000 square feet on two floors, the second with a retractable roof and what they’re calling one of the Midwest’s largest high-definition TV screens. Funny contrast, those hypermodern details, compared with Duque’s past at a restaurant with historical food and another named after the color of old photographs.
Photograph: Michael Gebert