Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp, who run the underground dining club Sunday Dinner, discovered how glorious fried chicken tastes with honey butter when their staff tried it while eating their meals in the kitchen at a dinner a couple of years ago. “From that moment on, we have always served our fried chicken with a big dollop of honey butter on it,” Cikowski says. Now they’re taking it one step further and naming a storefront after it: Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a counter-service spot (probably) opening next spring or summer (probably), serving seasonal sides, simple desserts, and lots of fried chicken (definitely). They will reveal the location as soon as they sign the lease. Sunday Dinner—which has dinners other days of the week too—will continue to operate, as will Cikowski and Kulp’s stand at Green City Market. Honey Butter will be open for lunch and dinner at least six days a week, so soon you’ll be able to get Sunday Dinner food not just on Sunday and not just at dinner.
Pollack’s Dinner at Michael Jordan’s Steak House in 184 Words
We all know the steak-house drill: Multilevel seafood towers, giant salads, mongo chops, mega steaks, tree-trunk-sized broccoli, enormous slabs of cake. Some variation of that macho menu is available on practically every street corner in River North. So news of Michael Jordan’s Steak House (505 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-321-8823) taking up residence in the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile didn’t really make my heart go pitter-patter. But MJ’s puts out a different vibe. The escorted trip up the marble staircase to my table was gracious, the expansive feel of the elegant room was soothing, and the charming, well-informed waiter was terrific. As for the food, the plates stun you with style rather than super size. The picturesque roasted-beet salad with goat cheese and hazelnuts got all the textures right, while garlic bread drizzled with käse reserve blue cheese was indulgent. The bone-in rib eye delivered straightforward mineral pleasure, but the merguez-crusted lamb chops with harissa impressed us even more. And somehow the 23-layer (get it?) chocolate cake came off as dignified. So, is Michael Jordan’s just another steak house? Was MJ just another basketball player?
"Five cents or five dollars?" —Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, about the price of an egg cream at the museum’s new restaurant, Untitled, as reported in the August 15 & 22 issue of The New Yorker.
Gourmet, Gourmet Everywhere
Like the Blob, foodieism is spreading into every area of food service. Late-night postbarhopping dining, still dominated by cheap pizza, burritos, and pancakes, hasn’t been overwhelmed yet, but it, too, is doomed. Daddy Cool’s (2200 N. Milwaukee Ave.; no phone yet), a gourmet-sausage stand planned for October in Logan Square, will stay open until 5 a.m. on weekends. It has a cartoon mascot that gives the place its name. “[Daddy Cool] is a world traveler,” says Joe Hathaway, the owner. “He has done everything: climbed mountains, jumped out of planes. He surfboards, rides a Harley, snowboards.” Many hot dogs will be regional specialties, and french fries will come with a choice of seasonings, such as ranch or barbecue. Burgers and different types of sloppy Joes will round out the menu. With late-night noshing now under siege, watch out, highway oases. You’re on notice.
The Stats on DK Bottega
DK Bottega (201 Des Plaines Ave., Forest Park; 708-488-9800), a west suburban Italian restaurant, takes its name from the initials of the chef/owner, Dave Knitkelbein. He gave us the 411 on the place:
• 5: Number of months ago the restaurant opened as M. Hermann’s, specializing in steak. “Then I bought out my partner and changed the name,” Knitkelbein says.
• 2.5: Number of months it has been named DK Bottega
• 90: Number of days the steaks are wet-aged. Knitkelbein kept the steaks from M. Hermann’s on the menu but added more Italian dishes, such as veal piccata, veal Marsala, and chicken Parmesan.
• $15: Price of Shrimp Pompeii, a house favorite, consisting of broiled shrimp in a white wine butter sauce with artichoke hearts, green peppers, red peppers, yellow squash, and zucchini
• 1877: Date the building was constructed. Two columns survive from the original structure.
In February 2010, Laura Soncrant, a landscape architect with a degree in arts management, opened the online bakery Sweet Attila’s – A Bake Shop, named after a pet rabbit. When she chose the vacated Café Ennui space in Rogers Park for a storefront, she decided to give the community back its café as well. The Growling Rabbit (6981 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-654-1444), named after a different pet rabbit (Deputy Kallie), soft-opened a month ago, taking suggestions from the neighborhood about what to serve. “We heard a lot of comments on bread,” Soncrant says. “[Customers also] wanted fresh mozzarella and good Cheddar. It’s more about the quality of the ingredients.” Growling Rabbit serves organic, fair-trade Flamenco coffee, out of Minneapolis, and baked goods such as a kangaroo: “Think cake doughnut meets a muffin with a pocket of either Nutella or raspberry jam,” Soncrant says. Funny to have a second business proliferate out of a first one somewhat unexpectedly, but somehow it all makes sense when they’re named after rabbits.
He Said It
“Guarantee we will have best pizza in city.” —Tony Mantuano, via text message, about the forthcoming Bar Toma (110 E. Pearson St.; no phone yet). He added that the modern Italian spot’s projected September opening has been delayed until at least October.
Some Married Couples Work Well Together, Apparently
In the next few months, the Sheridan el stop fixture Pizza Rustica (3913 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-404-8955) will relocate to a larger space across the street at 3908. “We’re going from about 850 square feet to about 2,000, although we still want to keep it intimate and cozy,” says Juliana Montebello-Roman, who adds that her office title is The Wife. (She’s married to Stefano Roman, the chef.) The new space will seat upwards of 65, which is 25 more than the current space, and serve alcohol, but the restaurant will continue to allow BYO for wine. The menu will remain the same, but Stefano plans to get more creative with specials. Juliana cites a pan-seared alligator fillet drizzled with sweet-cream butter as a favorite. She adds, “To me, he is the best chef in the world, and everything he makes is my favorite.” Awww.
- The breakfast trend scrambles onward.
- There’s a bit of friction in the foodieverse.
- Follow Pollack on Twitter.
Things to Do
1. Kick off a weekend of grilling at Chicago Prime Steakhouse (1444 E. Algonquin Rd., Schaumburg; 847-969-9900) with a free pig roast. The outdoor party runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and includes live entertainment and on-the-house roasted pork, wings, and other nibbles. RSVP to email@example.com.
2. Flash your student ID at Halsted Street Deli (233 N. Michigan Ave.; 177 N. State St.; 1 S. Franklin St.; 555 W. Monroe St.; 30 N. LaSalle St.) for 20 percent off all purchases in September. Quick, math majors: What is the discounted price of the Big Tony (the hefty salami, ham, capicola, and provolone sub) if the regular price is $5.99?
3. Savor summer’s bounty at The Bedford (1612 W. Division St.; 773-235-8800), where each Wednesday evening, Mark Steuer creates a $25 three-course prix fixe menu with whatever strikes his fancy at that morning’s Green City Market. A recent menu consisted of wax-bean salad, creamed Swiss chard, and duck and cherry bolognese. Our money’s on heirloom tomatoes tonight.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
With a menu of gussied-up regional staples from Eric Marnsavage (Club Lucky, Branch 27) and local beers and tap wines, the Midwestern pride runs deep at Farmhouse, a River North tavern slated to open September 6. . . . Cheers to the Roeser family for 100 years of sweetening up Humboldt Park with Roeser’s Bakery. . . . Maria Selas (Coco Pazzo, Blue Water Grill) adds some sugar to the menu at Quay, where the new pastry chef plans to whip up desserts, such as an upside-down Key lime tart and a banana tres leches cake. . . . In still more desserty news, we learned from Eater that the pastry chef Sarah Jordan (The Black Sheep, Blackbird) has joined Giuseppe Tentori in the kitchens of Boka and GT Fish & Oyster. . . . Two locations of Siunik Armenian Grill are under construction, at 1707 Chestnut Avenue in Glenview and 4839 Oakton Street in Skokie. The Chipotle-style restaurant will offer kebab pork, chicken, steak, and lula (ground beef) wrapped in Armenian lavosh, with a choice of vegetables and sauces. “I wanted a child named Siunik, but since my wife didn’t want a third child, I thought I would name the restaurant Siunik,” says the owner, Levon Kirakosyan.
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Team Dish will be taking next week off. We’ll be back on September 14.