Sophisticated friend in town? Business colleagues you’d like to ever-so-casually impress? Or just hungry for a fantastic meal in a stylish setting? Welcome to The Kitchen Chicago, Exhibit A in the argument for why Chicago can claim bragging rights as a world-class restaurant city. Here, it’s all about local food and a setting that celebrates all things Chicago, making it perfect for any occasion.
Walk into the historic Reid Murdoch building with its famous riverfront clock tower – ideally at dusk, when its boxy façade is painted a warm shade of rust – and you’ll immediately catch the artsy, industrial vibe. The old warehouse space is the envy of designers, with its brick walls, cement pillars, and exposed ductwork. Get cozy in a big gray banquette overlooking the mighty Chicago River. A little too early for dinner? Not to fear. From three to five, it’s “Community Hour” – a warm-and-fuzzy name for happy hour – and you can still order plenty of goodies to enjoy with your drinks, including oysters and artisanal cheeses. Snack on fresh seafood and small plates while sipping a local brew from their impressive beer list – like a balanced, coriander-y Troublesome from Off Color Brewing. Come in with old friends, or mingle with new ones at one of their family-style dinners on Monday nights.
The restaurant takes its commitment to Chicago seriously. Head Chef Johnny Anderes is Midwestern born and bred. When he cooks up his Slagel Family Farms pork loin with Hazzard Free Farm red flint heirloom corn polenta, he’s sharing a piece of local culinary history that dates back to 1888. At the same time, The Kitchen Chicago is taking a step forward: Anderes gets many of his greens from the Urban Till, a formerly derelict Chicago space now transformed into a high-end hydroponic urban grow house for herbs and micro-greens.
On the dinnertime table, this translates to innovative but hearty dishes. You wouldn’t think a squash salad would be worth a second helping, but you will change your mind when you dig into the wheatberries and squash, topped with ruby-red pomegranate seeds and a pistachio dressing. It’s a delicious way to sample a host of local ingredients, and you’ll find yourself scraping every last bit of flavor off the plate.