Julie Horowitz Jackson happily calls Bucktown her home now for fifteen years. Virtu, 2034 North Damen Ave, celebrated 11 years in business earlier this year. Her husband owns Color Wheel Studio, another Bucktown business, and their son attends Pulaski International School of Chicago, one of Bucktown’s four neighborhood CPS schools. Go goat or go home!
Putting my money where my mouth is, this working mom spent a joyous Mother's Day out and about in the neighborhood on a glorious sunny Sunday.
The day began with the inaugural brunch at newly opened Red Door located at the corner of Charleston and Damen. Perhaps you've heard? Chef Troy Graves and his scrumptious ways are back in Bucktown once again. You may remember Troy from his days at Meritage or even Tallulah up North. Tastebuds rejoice in savoring gastro pub fare offered in an enlightened elegance.
The space is cool and cozy with wood grained tables and banquettes. An elongated bar reaches across the dining room where you can sip hand crafted cocktails of añejo and ginger rhubarb or choose one of many brews from an extensive list. Jeremiah Krickhahn, Red Door's mixologist, simmers his own syrups in house.
Today we sat outside on the impressive patio and dined on traditional fare executed with Troy's twists. Known for his tasteful juxtapositions of both savory and sweet, I had the soy salmon with cucumber and asian pear on a bagel. Mr. Me had the Applewood smoked bacon and eggs and the kid snarfed the asparagus and gruyere quiche with mixed greens. A flight of mimosas was had in mango, ruby grapefruit, and that yummy rhubarb ginger I told you about before.
As if the meal wasn't enough, the best part was the company. Seated, community style, in this outdoor room, were so many of our neighbors, friends and customers each enjoying the day with family.
Dinner is served all week long, with the place turning more bar friendly after 10pm. On the menu you'll find small plates to share. Our favorites (so far) have been the fava bean toast with burrata and strawberries in a balsamic glaze, gnocchi or mussels, and the fantastic burger with onion marmalade.
I can't tell you how happy I am to have this corner bistro spot open once again. Just in time for some summer sun, that patio will be packed all season long.
From Red Door, we crossed the street to visit our friend Beth at the lovely Larkspur.
Painting with flowers doesn't quite come close to what we found on Sunday morning. Brilliant bouquets full of anemone and ranunculus were on hand amidst a field full of flowers fresh for you to choose. I can now say that I've seen the biggest hydrangea blossom I have ever laid eyes on, a heart shaped one that was bigger than a not so small child.
One of my favorite things about this neighbor of mine is the fact that she grows much of her stock on her own farm in Michigan. It doesn't get much more local than that.
After our visit, we headed a few blocks North to Logan skate park, one of the neighborhood's best kept secrets.
Hidden under 90/94 at Logan and Western you will find an enclosed stretch of concrete, metal and wood alive with the sound of rolling skate trucks and the distinct clink of a grind.
On that sunny Sunday the ramps were filled with kids of all ages, a skater chick here and there (woo hoo!), all waiting their turn to go with the flow. I got to sit and watch the kid master three new feats, fearless as ever, and completely mortified by my mere existence.
It's not so often that I get to enjoy a day free from Virtu, but when I have a spare moment, I try to spend some time (and some money) in our local independents.
Throughout the Six Corners and the streets beyond, we have many an option as to where to dine, play or shop. Think about your actions and consider this: each time you spend money locally, you are keeping more of those funds closer to home.
For a really neat way to spell this out clearly, check out the handy economic distribution calculator over on the Independent We Stand website.
I just entered the stats for Chicago and it told me that if every family spent just $10 a month in locally owned independent businesses, more than $277 million dollars would stay in our city. That's quite a lot of food for thought.
Check me next time when I blahg about the Wicker Park Farmer's Market. I can't wait for opening day on Sunday, June 3rd. See you there.