New Sports Bar with Great Beer/Sides Selection, TV Setup

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, September 21, 2012
This blog entry was contributed by: Mark Dollard, Broker at Chicago Properties Inc. Visit his blog at dollardnsense.com. He can be reached at mark.dollard@gmail.com.


I’d like to start this out by saying that I’ve written about the extraordinary selection of places to get a wide variety of craft beers in Wicker Park and Bucktown.

I truly believe that for the discerning beer drinker, our neighborhood is one of the finest on the planet.  So, it should come as no surprise that the newest sports bar in town would do its best to live up the local reputation.  In what is sure to become a trend in the next few years, Fat Pour is a great venue for viewing sports and, um, sports the widest selection of beer taps around.  


As sports bars go, Fat Pour has one of the better TV setups that I’ve seen.  

There are big screens around the entire perimeter of the eating room and they are at just above eye level.  So, there’s no straining your neck no matter where you sit.  I went to Fat Pour during the Sunday Night Football game between San Francisco and Detroit.  There were passionate, but not rowdy fans for the teams that had good knowledge of the game.  As a sports fan, I truly appreciate this.


As for the food, all the requisite sports bar/pub grub staples are on the menu including burgers, nachos, pizza, wings etc.

 However, they do put a creative spin on a lot of the items (the burger menu is particularly extensive) and they have the best selection of sides I’ve seen at a sports bar.   This may be the only place in town where you can mix football and a burger with sides of quinoa and cous cous (of course, fries are available, too).  Plus, the kitchen is visible through a very large glass wall, so you can see how your items are prepared.  They get some props for that.


Honestly, all of the preceding info is great, but I’m most excited about the beer selection at Fat Pour.  

They have 50 plus taps (Fat Pour calls itself a “hardcore beer bar”), and the selection contains a lot of seasonal specialties and style variability.  This is a well-balanced beer menu and the regular menu provides recommendations by style for beer pairings with your meal.  What this means is that you can find a style that any beer drinker will like and fit it holistically into your meal.


Fatpour Tap Works

2005 W Division
(773) 698-8940
www.fatpourchicago.com

Retro Italian Fun: Club Lucky

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, September 14, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, editor and publisher of My American Odyssey, a travel site offering reviews, travelogues and trip itineraries for destinations throughout the United States. 



Nestled in a quiet tree-canopied area at the corner of Wabansia and Honore in Bucktown is an homage to a swinging 50’s era supper club that’s more authentic than anything you’ll find in New York or Las Vegas.  The porthole windows, chrome railings, upholstered booths, and checkerboard tiles ring absolutely true.  It’s a classic 50’s style that comes across as new.






Yet for all its fresh seeming appeal, Club Lucky hearkens back to an earlier era when good Italian food meant a bowl of spaghetti and a bottle of Chablis in a webbed bottle.  Whether or not Club Lucky would do any better or worse with a more adventurous approach is past consideration.  Like its décor, its food is meticulously true to its heritage. 





Order from a menu that includes Italian-American classics like Fettucini Alfredo, Penne Arrabiata, or Linguini and Clams.  Dig into house specialties like Veal Parmigana, Chicken Vesuvio, or Grilled Pork Chops. 


Although the food is decidedly retro, there’s nothing run down or tired looking about the decor.  The place is immaculately clean.  It’s frequently primped up and repainted and often feels as if you are arriving on the first day of business.  They have a lovely sidewalk café under a black and red awning and while I was there on a recent visit the owner was outside planting geraniums, chatting with neighbors.


At bottom Club Lucky is one of those places that’s so charming and appealing you’ll want to tell your friends.  The minute you walk through the door into that swinging 50’s cocktail lounge, you’re smitten.  Have the bartender mix you up a classic martini and fuh-get about it.  Club Lucky swings, baby!



Club Lucky

1824 W. Wabansia
Chicago, IL 60622
773-227-2300
www.clubluckychicago.com








The Southern: Down Home Cookin’ with Something More

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, August 03, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, editor and publisher of My American Odyssey, a travel site offering reviews, travelogues and trip itineraries for destinations throughout the United States. 


Offering an original twist on Dixie style food and drink, The Southern reinterprets down home classics using an approach that leans heavily on small plates and chef Cary Taylor’s irrepressible creativity. 


Try the corn meal battered hush puppies with smoked trout and artichoke dip, or dig into fried green tomatoes with piquillo pepper and Louisiana goat cheese.  Pass around Louisiana crawfish tails, or sample blue crab cakes with Dijon aioli, petite salad, and gala apple.  


This kind of eatin’ will make you hoot and holler and throw your hat in the air.  It’s everything you’d expect out of southern comfort food – and a whole lot more.



But let’s say you are bringing a large party and are up for a true southern style feast.  The Southerns got you covered, cooking up a whole pig, a standing rib roast, or a low country boil on a pre-arranged basis. 


Southern food this audacious calls for amazing drinks and The Southern hits the mark with edgy concoctions like the Maple Bacon Manhattan, which takes house infused Jim Beam Bacon Bourbon and mixes in maple syrup and North Country smoked bacon; or the Trolley Dolly, an inspired combination of Hendrick’s Gin, Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur, lemon, and maraschino rinse. 





As a late night cocktail lounge The Southern stands out.  But it also earns high marks for its weekend brunch, a countrified affair that consists of Dixie inspired creations like smothered biscuits with braised chicken thighs, andouille gravy and buttermilk biscuits; or French toast with cream cheese frosting, fresh peaches, and bourbon caramel.The ambiance at The Southern is sleek and sexy yet down-to-earth.  The ground floor walls open on two sides allowing the interior environment to flow seamlessly into the patio, making for a great summertime haunt.  On chillier evenings a central fireplace lends a romantic air. Regulars linger and relax.  Smiles are everywhere.  



This is momma’s home cookin’ with something more.  When it comes to combining a sleek urban sensibility with homespun roots, The Southern is in a class by itself.   


The Southern

1840 W North Ave.
in Bucktown
(773) 342-1840 
www.thesouthernchicago.com



Great Twists on Classic Food and Drink: Red Door

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by: Mark Dollard, Broker at Chicago Properties Inc. Visit his blog at dollardnsense.com. He can be reached at mark.dollard@gmail.com.


One of the newest places in the WPB area has been opening to great reviews, and it’s not a fluke.

The Red Door hits all the right buttons for those of us who are into consumption (as in, eating and drinking interesting and delicious things). Everything I've tried evokes classic dishes, but puts a spin on them to bring them to a higher level.


The food that I have had there has been really good, and has the right amount of creativity. For instance, people that are really into meat will tell you that collar meat is some of the most tender and tastiest meat that you can get from a given animal (pork, fish, etc.)  So, when Red Door puts a pork collar taco in front of you, it’s best to give it a try. The accompanying salsa verde is just right and the use of collar meat makes this taco stick out in the increasingly competitive WPB taco scene.  Another good example is the lobster deviled egg.  It takes a fairly standard dish and takes it to the just-right level of richness.  




The drink selection and care at the Red Door also keeps in line with this thinking.  

There are a lot of interesting beer and wine selections and the mixologists do a very nice job. I ordered a Rye Manhattan up (it’s my baseline drink order for judging a bartender) and it was like no other Rye Manhattan I’ve had…in a good way. There was a fruitiness one wouldn’t normally find and the entire drink was more cohesive than I expect from cocktails. 




To top all of it off, a lot of the plates are very reasonably priced and they have one of the best patios in Chicago.  In short, our newest neighbors have created a great place to try a few things, get some inspired flavors, and enjoy a comfortable-yet-hip place.


Red Door

2118 N Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647  
(773) 772-7100 
www.reddoorchicago.com

Feast: For the Senses

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, July 13, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, a freelance writer and Wicker Park Bucktown resident. Visit his website at www.fillmyemptyblogspace.com. He can be reached at malcolm.logan@rcn.com.

Bucktown’s Feast is more than just a restaurant.  

Oh sure, the wonderful flavors served up by Chef Debbie Sharpe are a treat for the palate, but then there are the aromas, textures and presentation of such dishes as barbecue salmon with buttermilk hot cakes and slow cooked lamb shank with shaved romano, making for a total sensory experience - and that’s just what’s on the plate in front of you.




Check out the wine list.  

Noted sommelier, Bret Heiar, recent winner of the Australian Regional Wine Immersion Program, has carefully selected more than 50 delectable vintages.  It’s hard to go wrong.  But for a true Bucktown experience, few things match the sublime pleasure of sipping a cool, crisp chardonnay on Feast’s flower-filled patio in the summer.  Talk about immersion!



Even if you have a specialized diet, Feast can make your dining experience - well, a feast.  

There are more than two dozen gluten free choices and plenty of inspired vegetarian options like the black bean veggie burger with pepper jack, avocado and chipotle aioli, or the beloved butternut squash ravioli with spiced walnuts, crispy sage leaves, brown butter and goat cheese.And dessert?  How about a delicious tiramisu made up of layers of espresso soaked cake dripping in chocolate sauce?  Or white chocolate citrus bread pudding with lime creme anglaise and orange tuile garnish?  Are your senses exulting?



And Feast is a feast for the eyes.  

Working from a palate of violets and earth tones, the setting is vibrant and cheerful.  In the summer the spacious outdoor patio is a huge neighborhood favorite.  In the winter, a cozy fireplace provides a cushy refuge while you await your table.  



But for all Feast’s sensual charms nothing beats its famed brunch.  

Sweet and savory choices abound.  Standouts include oatmeal pancakes with cinnamon-apple compote, honey-vanilla butter and walnut brittle; and eggs royale with two poached eggs and smoked salmon over an english muffin with hollandaise sauce and caviar.  Yum.






Yes, Feast is more than just a restaurant.  

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s a feast for the senses.  If you find yourself in Bucktown, take some time out to enjoy Feast.  Immerse yourself in it.  You’ll be glad you did.


Feast

1616 N Damen Ave
(between Wabansia & Milwaukee Ave) 
Chicago, IL 60647  
(773) 772-7100 
www.feastrestaurant.com



Small Bar: The Little Bar with a Big Heart

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, June 01, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, a freelance writer and Wicker Park Bucktown resident. Visit his website at www.fillmyemptyblogspace.com. He can be reached at malcolm.logan@rcn.com.


Feeling a little down lately? Tired of the same old thing when it comes to bars?  Same old weak beer selection, same old uninspired food.


Take heart!


If you’ve been looking for a bar that feels your need for something edgier, Small Bar has you covered.  Ever tried Poutine? They’ve been loving it long time in Quebec.  At Small Bar you can dive into this decadent mix of French Fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy. Or how about duck confit on flat bread with gruyere cheese and carmelized onions?  Or pork meat balls with blue cheese baked polenta and jalapeno bacon jam?

 

Great Ceasar’s ghost!  Is this really a bar or the experimental lab of some edgy young chef cackling maniacally as he concocts daring admixtures.


Truth. It’s both. Chef Justin White, formerly sous chef at the highly regarded Custom House has been given carte blanche to let his creativity run wild here, and the result is bar food unlike any you’ll find anywhere.  


While other bars offer you potato skins and quesadillas to nosh on while watching the game, Small Bar wows with paprika spiced pumpkin seeds, spiced and candied peanuts, and edamame with grey salt and lemon.  I, for one, would easily trade another tiresome jalapeno popper for one of chef White’s scrumptious Parmesan and thyme pastry puffs any day.



So what makes this a bar, and not a gourmet restaurant masquerading as the local tap?  

Well, how about a staggering beer selection with more than 100 varieties to choose from?  How about 24 carefully selected craft brews on tap?  How about daily drink specials and a full bar?  If you’re looking for a place that respects your taste in quality potations, Small Bar is for you.


But at the end of the day isn’t a good bar about hanging out with your friends, maybe taking in a game?  Small Bar is right there.


Small Bar watches the volume.  You can hear the music, but you don’t have to shout. The TVs feature sports, and if you happen to be an Association League Football Fan, Katie bar the door!  


Association League Football – that’s the international soccer league to us Americans – gets the red carpet treatment here.  We’re talking Association League games in real time, which means the place is mobbed on Saturday mornings with fanatical Europeans and other international types shouting and carrying on as they wolf down Small Bar’s delicious brunch.  It’s so good, the US Soccer Federation has named Small Bar the number one soccer bar in the country!


If you love Association League Football, Small Bar has it on for you.  If you love a huge selection of quality beer, Small Bar is right there for you.  If you appreciate outstanding bar food by a renowned chef, Small Bar has its arms opens for you.


Small Bar is the little bar with a big heart.  If you’re feeling down, it will pick you up.





Small Bar

2049 Division
(between Damen and Hoyne)
in Wicker Park
(773) 772-2727 
www.thesmallbar.com/division 


Get a Deal on Your Meal and Leverage Your Beverage

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Monday, May 21, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by: Mark Dollard, Broker at Chicago Properties Inc. Visit his blog at dollardnsense.com. He can be reached at mark.dollard@gmail.com.


If you are like me, you probably love getting a great deal when you go out.

Over the years, I’ve built a reputation among my friends for having a keen awareness of all the food and drink specials in any place where I live (some might call this being a “cheapskate”).  Fortunately for the value conscious among us, there are great deals to be found for anyone who wants to enjoy Wicker Park and Bucktown.  Here are some categories and the specials you’ll want to check out in the neighborhood.

Meatiest Special

Tuesday – Smoke Daddy: $6 Pulled Meat Nachos AND $5 Craft Beer Flights.  You will go home with a full belly and smelling of delicious smoke.


Most “Eat and Drink Like A European” Special

Monday – Map Room: $1 off Belgian beers AND free meats and cheeses.  I get flashbacks to my time living in Amsterdam whenever I think about this special.


Most Extensive Weekend Specials

Friday to Sunday – Pint: too many good drink specials to list.  It’s the rare spot that gives you good deals on beverages all weekend long. Cheers to that!


Best Special to Try a Wide Range of Items at a Great Price

Thursday – Salud Tequila Lounge: $1, $2, $3 appetizers.  These are small appetizers that are creative, tasty and fun to eat.  You can try all kinds of them and still end up with a small bill.


The Specials that Pair Very Well with Sports

Tuesday – Cans: $3 Lite Drafts AND half price appetizers.  There was a great place to watch college basketball that had half price appetizers on Tuesdays when I was in school.  This special brings back fond memories…

Bulls and Cubs Games – The Anthem: $16 domestic beer buckets and free homemade chex mix.  If that doesn’t make you feel at home, not much will.


Most ‘Unique’ Special

Monday – Bangers and Lace: $10 Chicken, Krombacher Pils and a Malört.  If you don’t know, Malört is a real deal Chicago beverage.  However, it’s not for everyone.  If you are trying it for the first time, make sure to have a camera handy to catch your Malört face.

The ‘Unbelievable Beer Price’ Special

Tuesday – Easy Bar: $2 drafts.  Enough said.  The ‘Easy’-est category to figure out in this entire post.

All Week Extravaganza

Wicker Park Tavern: $1 cheeseburgers, $2 PBR, $3 Goose Island Seasonals, $15 buckets of Budweiser, AND assorted daily/game specials.  Simply put, Wicker Park Tavern is the king of specials in, well, Wicker Park.

Now you have the information, and if you have a few bucks you can go out and have a good old time any night of the week.  Happy “bar”-gain hunting!




Mother's Day in Bucktown, a Suite in Three Parts.

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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.


Pint: A Traditional Irish Pub with Something More

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Friday, May 04, 2012

This blog post was contributed by: Malcolm Logan, a freelance writer and Wicker Park Bucktown resident. Visit his website at www.fillmyemptyblogspace.com. He can be reached at malcolm.logan@rcn.com.


It’s a requirement. In Chicago, every neighborhood worth its salt has to have an Irish pub.

In Wicker Park it's called Pint.  

With heavy oak woodwork, panel moldings and ornate chandeliers, Pint nails an authentic Anglo-Irish decor.  A characteristic red London phone booth out front completes that across-the-pond feel. 




In Chicago, Irish pubs are understood to be solid local hang outs during the week as well as the happy hunting grounds of eager singles on the weekends. During the week, Pint passes muster, providing a friendly staff, adequate in number, ready to serve, and featuring 18 quality beers on tap, with an emphasis on Irish products like Guiness, Smithwicks and Harp.  For food it offers shepherd’s pie, a selection of burgers, and fish and chips, hitting all the right notes.  As for décor, Pint’s library room is like something out of Sherlock Holmes, with a pillared and mantled fireplace, Edwardian mirrors and overstuffed sofas, great for relaxing in. 



On the weekends, Pint pumps up the volume.  The cavernous bar with its brick archways and swanky upstairs loft overflow with spirited twenty-somethings, laughing, mingling and dancing.  More than a dozen TVs show sports, some up close and at eye-level within the confines of individual alcoves.  In fact, cozy nooks and comfortable corners abound, making Pint a great place to hang out with friends or get acquainted.



In the summer, Pint comes alive with comfortable sidewalk dining along one of the busiest sections of Milwaukee Avenue, perfect for people watching while relaxing in the heart of vibrant Wicker Park. 


When it comes to food, in addition to its Irish staples, Pint offers eighteen appetizers, seven salads, fourteen sandwiches, and a selection of main courses.  Beyond its eighteen drafts, Pint offers more than 40 beers in bottles, as well as cocktails, wine and a full bar.



Every Chicago neighborhood has an Irish pub – it’s practically a rule - and Wicker Park has Pint.

From local hangout to pulsing nightspot to great sidewalk dining, Pint covers all the bases.  It’s everything an Irish pub should be, and more.   


Pint

1547 N. Milwaukee
(773) 772-0990
Su-F: 11am-2am; Sa: 11am-3am


Wicker Park Bucktown News - May 2 2012

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Thursday, May 03, 2012

Only a Few More Days Left to Enter to Win a Beautiful Bucktown Poster

Answer questions on what kinds of businesses you'd like to see in Wicker Park Bucktown and where you'd like to spend your dollars and you're entered to win this beautiful screen-printed Bucktown poster by StudioChris. Make sure to include your email address for a chance to win! Take our survey now





May Chamber Mixer at The Anthem

When: Wed, May 16th, 6-8pm
Where: The Anthem, 1725 W. Division
Cost: Free for Chamber Members, $5 for Non-Members
Grow your network or just casually meet your neighbors at the Chamber's May Networking Event at The Anthem! Click here for more information and to RSVP. 


Summer Sidewalk Sales

When: Jul 21st-22nd & Aug 25th-26th, 2012
Where: Wicker Park Bucktown
Our two signature summer sidewalk sales exclusively for Wicker Park Bucktown merchants are back again this summer! Participation in both weekends' sales are free to WPB Chamber Members and $100 for non-members. For more information and to sign your business up to participate, click here.

Wicker Park Fest 2012

When: Sat & Sun, July 28th-29th, 2012
Where: Milwaukee Avenue between North & Paulina
Cost: $5 donation
Described as Chicago's "best street festival of the summer" by the Chicago Tribune, Wicker Park Fest 2012 is sure to top what was an amazing slate of performances, food and vendors at Wicker Park Fest '11. Check our website to find out more about the upcoming line-up and apply as a vendor! Also, "LIKE" the official fan page on Facebook!





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