Lucks Out in Lake View
It all started 11 years ago, when Adam Lucks and his sister Valeri were walking past Jinx Café on Division Street and saw that it was for sale. “Maybe we could open a restaurant,” Adam remembers saying. The wheels rolled into motion. Adam went to culinary school in Portland, Oregon, and then Valeri connected them with the owners of a coffee shop in Milwaukee called Comet Café. The Luckses bought half, and when that went well they opened another spot, Honeypie—still in Milwaukee. Now “we’re jumping to Chicago,” Adam Lucks says. “Val and I always had it in the back of our minds. We refer to Milwaukee as the springboard. We were going to use it to cut our teeth. One day, we said, we should bring it to Chicago.” The dream takes shape as Northdown Café and Taproom (3244 N. Lincoln Ave.; no phone yet), an 85-seat comfort food restaurant in the space that formerly housed the bar Bourbon. “Our food is going to be traditional comfort food with heavy focusing on ingredient quality and farmer support,” Adam says. “We source from about 45 different farms in Wisconsin for our two restaurants, and we would like to carry that with us to Chicago as well.” For example, their meat loaf consists of grass-fed beef wrapped in bacon, with a rich gravy. Valeri will spearhead the desserts, focusing on pies. Together with their partner Tom Lee (The Map Room), The Luckses are shooting for a May opening. Best of lucks.
Our spies tell us that James Terlizzi, formerly of Bin 36, Rhapsody, Zinfandel, and Tuttoposto, plans to open Central Kitchen and Tap (4800 N. Central Ave.; no phone yet), a fast-casual comfort-food spot, in late April in Jefferson Park. Food includes roast chicken, slow-cooked ribs, pizza with homemade dough, and sandwiches made with fresh bread. Black-and-white neighborhood photos, dark and light woods, and a butcher-block bar combine for a homey atmosphere. “One catchphrase I have been using to describe it is ‘family tavern,’” Terlizzi says. “A couple of video games for kids to play; at the same time, a full bar, so if Dad wants a beer with dinner, he’s happy, too.” When the video games are for the beer drinkers, the appropriate term is “Wrigleyville tavern.”
Seven Questions for Chris Lardakis
Lardakis is a partner in Kanela Breakfast Club (3231 N. Clark St.; 773-248-1622), a breakfast and lunch spot that opened two weeks ago in the former Orange space in Lake View.
Dish: What’s the concept of Kanela’s menu?
Chris Lardakis: I’ve been working on this one menu for five years. I went to San Francisco and had brunch at Buckeye’s in Sausalito. Everything tasted so fresh. From that moment on, my concept was not just to open any breakfast place with processed food. I wanted organic eggs. Everything cut fresh, if it was potatoes, vegetables, no matter what. We make our own chicken sausage. We mix our own lamb burgers. Tallgrass beef burgers.
D: Did you change the décor much?
CL: Oh yes. Oh my goodness, yes. The Orange concept was an ugly looking room. Rough and not good looking but with amazing food.
D: So you like the food at Orange, though?
CL: I’ve been to Orange a few times. Personally I didn’t really like it. It’s something different, but I wasn’t really excited about the fruit sushi. I’m a big eater, and when I go somewhere, I want to eat a really good size meal.
D: It was kind of frou-frou?
CL: Yes, too frou-frou for what I wanted. My place is a tad frou-frou but not to extreme levels.
D: What Kanela dishes are emerging as favorites?
CL: The chocolate bacon waffles. People love those with the bourbon caramel sauce. And then chorizo is one of the hottest sellers. The chorizo is a savory dish, like a scramble. One of our biggest sellers is the duck confit hash.
D: Who is the cook?
CL: Karl Thomalla. He used to work for Julius Meinl.
D: Has it been busy?
CL: We’ve been really slammed on weekends. Anywhere people go, they either love a place or hate a place. You know how things are. We have to make the customer happy no matter what. If the food tastes great and we have good customer service, who wouldn’t come back? I try to greet everyone that comes in. Make everyone happy. We have to be personable with people. Talk, talk, talk to people. Make everyone happy.
“My favorite animal is steak.” —Fran Lebowitz (1950– ), American author
In a big week for comfort food in Dish, the northern suburbs will soon be comforted by Townhouse (695 Deerfield Rd., Deerfield; 847-948-9700), with the same name but a concept different from that of the Townhouse on North Wacker Drive. The parent company of both Townhouses, Restaurants-America, is transmogrifying the Deerfield space from its previous incarnation as Red Star Tavern. The new spot’s comfort food will involve some fusion, says Anthony Reyes, the corporate chef at Restaurants-America and the opening chef. For example, “a hormone-free airline chicken breast but with a twist to it,” Reyes says. “This is a pan-roasted Amish chicken breast served with arugula salad, heirloom teardrop tomatoes, shaved pecorino, fresh lemon, and extra virgin olive oil.” Desserts will include a triple-layer chocolate mousse cake, a cinnamon crème brûlée, and a banana and Nutella bread pudding. “You can put Nutella on a shoe and I would eat it,” Reyes says. Presumably Nutella shoe won’t be on the menu—sounds discomforting.
- Between Vie and the forthcoming Perennial Virant, Paul Virant will soon add juggling to his repertoire.
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On the Blog
Things to Do
1. Slurp to your heart’s content at Oyster Fest at Tavern on Rush (1031 N. Rush St.; 312-664-9600) starting Friday and running though March 13th. The shellfish come freshly shucked for a buck. Get them cornmeal battered and deep-fried, Rockefeller, or shooter-style for $2.
2. Be among the first to get a swig of the new bottled Bloody Mary mix at The Smoke Daddy (1804 W. Division St.; 773-772-6656) on Saturday, when they’ll be pouring complimentary “Smokin’ Mary” samples from 1 to 3 p.m. Pair your Mary with a pulled pork sandwich and a side for $12 from 11 a.m. to 12.
3. Stretch your (two) dollars at West Town newcomer Frontier (1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-772-4322), where deviled eggs, oysters, sliders, a rotating roster of game-filled tacos (duck, boar, venison), and select half-pints of beer are each $2 on Tuesdays.
4. Catch Jimmy Bannos at the Japanese Food Showcase: Greens from the Sea event at Macy’s Culinary Studio (111 N. State St.) on March 9th. You know they work magic with pig parts at his restaurant The Purple Pig; now see what Bannos can do with seaweed at this free culinary demo. Register for the event here.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Snowbirds and Cubs spring-training attendees can soon get a taste of Chicago—Province, specifically—in the desert. Chef Randy Zweiban will open his second outpost, also called Province, on March 10th in the new Westin Phoenix Downtown (333 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona; 602-429-3600). . . . More than fifty restaurants are keeping the Chicago Restaurant Week party going, offering dining deals into this week (and even longer at some spots). . . . According to an Eater article, Lincoln Park’s Korean BBQ joint Del Seoul (2568 N. Clark St.; 773-248-4227) will expand both its square footage and its menu options over the next two months. . . . As reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, Epic Burger plans to beef up its Chicago presence this summer with the opening of its most epic (we’re talking 3,300 square feet) burger, fries, and shake shop at 550 West Adams Street. . . . After a nine-year tenure, Gene Kato has rolled his last nori in the Japonais kitchen, according to The Stew. . . . Graham Elliot has found yet another portmanteau for his name: Grahambulance, a forthcoming food truck serving the food of Grahamwich.