Just when you thought the corner of Clark and Roscoe couldn't get any sloppier, along comes Lowcountry (3343 N. Clark, Lakeview, 773-996-9997), a southern-style seafood joint with a hands-only approach on cutlery set to open next month.
Helmed by Pan Hompluem in the same space where he operated Blokes & Birds, the crux of Lowcountry's menu is based on a southern seafood boil: priced-by-the-pound shellfish cooked in your choice of sauce (Cajun, garlic, lemon pepper) with your choice of side (corn, sausage, potatoes) and served in a plastic bag—basically, a huge mess. "The first thing we did here was take away the silverware and plates," says Hompluem, who's plunked a water trough in the middle of the dining room for easy cleanup. "You're going to get your hands dirty. You will get a bib."
For those unwilling to splosh through their dinner, Lowcountry will offer dry fare including popcorn shrimp, most of which can be ordered with pickled vegetables as a bahn mi sandwich—a nod to Hompluem's southeastern Asian heritage. Cornbread and beignets are also available, and as with any restaurant within a mile of Wrigley, there's plenty of beer.
And speaking of beer: When Lowcountry's kitchen closes at 10 p.m. each night, its picnic tables will host beer pong and flip-cup, and the music will turn to Top 40 hits—a period of night they're calling "Brocountry." "I spent a year [at Blokes and Birds] studying the neighborhood and what my customers want," says Hompluem, who will also maintain the karaoke lounge beneath Lowcountry. On first impression, he seems to have pegged his clientele just right.