Non-Transactional Transactions

“The SMOQUE experience is GREAT FOOD and GREAT SERVICE delivered with PASSION, PRIDE, and ENTHUSIASM to every customer, every time.”

As a member of the management team at the original Smoque location on Pulaski, I was tasked with making sure that the above mission statement was understood and carried out by our entire staff. When we decided to make the leap into the downtown market, our concern was adapting that experience to the fast pace that would inevitably be required to succeed in the Loop.

I’ve been in the restaurant & service industry for over 20 years. I started washing dishes as a kid for my family’s businesses, worked at sandwich shops all through high school, at diners in college, and everything in between ever since. My experiences have taught me that customer service doesn’t always mean the same thing everywhere. At Smoque, I can say without a doubt, we value customer service in a way that no other restaurant I have worked for does.

How? We take it personally. We have a close relationship with many of our regulars and know each other by sight and by name. We know what they’re going to order before they tell us. We really try to go above and beyond to make our customers happy. I love that about our shop.

So then, how do you adapt a system and set of practices built around a casual, neighborhood dining experience to accommodate the needs of a very different set of diners? People who have a limited amount of time to eat who need food fast but are not expecting fast food? How do you perform quick transactions that do not feel transactional to the customer? Based on my experience at Revival, it takes a lot of hard work, effort, and reinforcement with your team. It also takes a bit of good luck.

We were lucky with the people we hired. With the exception of myself and our Prep Manager Monica, everyone else down here is new to our organization. This crew has been very open to learning our way of doing things and executing our values. They have learned and grown with us as we have found our way in this new market.

We were lucky with our neighbors. Our cohorts at Revival Food Hall have shown they care just as much about their food and service to the customer as we do about ours. It’s a morale booster when everyone is headed in the same direction and working toward the same goals.

We were lucky with the space we have to work in. Revival Food Hall is one of the best configured and well-equipped foodservice spaces I have had the pleasure of working in. It’s made doing our job well and satisfying our customers that much easier for us.

Finally, we were lucky with our customers. This was a new concept a year ago. Our guests knew about as much as we did about this place when we opened, which wasn’t much. Over time we’ve learned how to work together, adapted our menu to their needs, and discovered how we fit in their day, and how they fit in ours. I usually work the meat station and take customer orders during the busy lunch hours. Now, just like our location on Pulaski, I am on a first name basis with many of our regular Revival customers, and know exactly what they want before they order.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I can now honestly say that with our second location at Revival Food Hall, we are successfully delivering great food and great service, delivered with passion, pride, and enthusiasm to every customer, every time.

Just a bit faster.

Jesus “Chuy” Contreras
Manager, Smoque BBQ at RFH

I scream! You scream! We all scream for Black Dog Gelato!

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at the case after “You have GOAT CHEESE gelato?!” is “What’s the biggest difference between ice cream and gelato?” In honor of the end of National Ice Cream month, we at Black Dog Gelato would love to answer that for you. Here’s a breakdown on how these frozen goods differ in very slight ways.

- Gelato is made with more milk than cream, which means that it contains less fat. We like to think that means gelato is healthier!

- Gelato is served at slightly warmer temperatures than the average ice cream scoop. We keep our cases in the 5 to 10-degree Celsius range. Colder temperatures numb the taste buds, inhibiting your ability to get the full flavor profile. By serving gelato at this warmer temperature, we achieve a higher flavor intensity and richer mouth feel.

- Gelato has less “overrun” than ice cream which is the term used for the air that naturally gets incorporated into the ingredients during the spinning process. This means that gelato has less aeration per bite, creating extra density and smoothness.

So there it is! Gelato is better for you, tastes better, and you get more from each bite. At Black Dog, we’re always happy to make sure we’ve got well-informed citizens and gelato fans!

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The Science of the Secret Sandwich

THE BACKSTORY
Danke customers always ask, what makes the Secret Sandwich, SECRET? Let’s start way back, at our sister restaurant Table Donkey and Stick. Same great bread baked daily, same awesome charcuterie made in-house. When TDS opened, charcuterie was sold as a wanderteller plate, or traveller’s plate, with three charcuterie or cheese items plus bread and accoutrements like jams and pickled vegetables. Like any loyal staff with an extensive knowledge of the menu, our employees invented their own frankenstein sandwich of house favorites. First, order your meats, namely Schweinkopf (cured pigs head) and Duck Liver Mousse. Then order your cheese, preferably an alpine-style cheese like Gruyere. Request the rye baguette for bread and send it off to the kitchen along with a note of love and admiration to the BOH family.

THE BREAKDOWN OF THE SECRET SANDWICH
With Danke as Table Donkey and Stick’s lil’ sister, there is no need for instructions or sonnets to a chef. We celebrate the best kept Secret (sandwich) of Revival Food Hall, which includes:

Duck Liver Mousse - made in-house, our secret to their decadence is that we soak them in milk first to remove the metallic flavor that often comes along with this iron-heavy delicacy.
Cured Pork Belly - we roll this puppy up tight and circulate it for hours on end with a special blend of spices making it tender and flavorful, then we slice it deli-style.
Arugula - to add just a bit of earthy bite
Emmental Cheese - A traditional swiss cheese with a buttery, tangy sweetness
Smoked, Pickled Onions - Smoked then pickled to give you a delightfully complex crunch
Whole Grain Mustard - a sharp sauce with a little pop
SERVED ON OUR HOUSE BAGUETTE - it goes without saying, this bread (baked fresh daily) is infamous.

THE BIRTHDAY
Not only can you find this gem of a sandwich daily at Danke in Revival Food Hall - In honor of Table Donkey and Stick’s 5th birthday, you can find it nightly until 7pm when you cozy up to our bar in Logan Square.


Table Donkey and Stick is located at 2728 W Armitage Avenue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Danke is a wine bar & sandwich shop centrally located inside Revival Food Hall.

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Farmer's Fridge-Seasonal Salad: Strawberry Rhubarb

Strawberry Rhubarb Salad

 

Here at Farmer’s Fridge, we are all about making delicious and fresh food more accessible. At the beginning of every season, we craft a special salad highlighting the freshest finds of the season. Our current summer offering, the Strawberry Rhubarb salad, is made with spinach, white quinoa, strawberries, roasted rhubarb, goat cheese, sliced almonds, and topped with a white balsamic vinaigrette. The tartness of the rhubarb is balanced out by the savory goat cheese and finished perfectly with our subtly sweet, housemade white balsamic vinaigrette. This salad can be found at Revival Food Hall or any of our 60+ fridge locations around the Chicagoland area. The Strawberry Rhubarb salad is only available through July, so grab yours soon! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Salad

Curbside Books & Records

When Carl Sandburg dubbed his home of Chicago the “Hog Butcher for the World,” it caused outraged poetry lovers to cancel their subscriptions to Poetry Magazine all over the world and made Chicago become its own breed of literary city in March 1914.

Our “City of Big Shoulders” is thriving in the literary world. We at Curbside Splendor Publishing opened Curbside Books & Records to facilitate the discovery of independent literature and challenge the traditional understanding of literature's function in our world.

Let us tell you about some of our friends who are publishing the best work right here out of Chicago:

826CHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students from ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, as well as helping teachers inspire their students to write. They provide after-school tutoring, creative writing workshops, field trips, in-school support, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications.

Staff Pick: Compendium Vol. 5 anthology with a foreword by Dave Eggers

Agate Publishing is an independent book publisher based in Evanston. At its inception, Agate was synonymous with its Bolden imprint, which published exclusively African-American literature and has since expanded to include five additional imprints, including Surrey (cookbooks), Midway (books with a Midwest/Chicago theme), and Agate Digital (e-books).

Staff Pick: Long Division by Kiese Laymon

Drag City is best known as a Chicago-based independent indie rock record label. In 1997, Drag City began publishing books and magazines, including works by Bill Callahan, Harmony Korine, Neil Hagerty, and Rudolph Wurlitzer.

Staff Pick: How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life by John Fahey

Featherproof publishes strange and beautiful fiction and nonfiction, and post-, trans-, and inter-genre tragicomedy. It is currently operated by Tim Kinsella and Jason Sommer.

Staff Pick: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper

Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher whose mission is to publish books that contribute to struggles for social and economic justice. They strive to make their books a vibrant and organic part of social movements and the education and development of a critical, engaged, international left.

Staff Pick: A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval

Rose Metal Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher of hybrid genres specializing in the publication of short short, flash, and micro-fiction; prose poetry; novels-in-verse or book-length linked narrative poems; and other literary works that move beyond the traditional genres of poetry, fiction, and essay to find new forms of expression.

 

Staff Pick: The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová: A Biographical Collage By Kelcey Parker Ervick

Soberscove Press seeks to make available art-related materials that fill a gap in the literature or are difficult to. Their books tend to explore modes and functions of documentation and connect historical themes and issues to the present. Soberscove also works with artists on the production of artists’ books that resonate with their growing list.

Staff Pick: Deliverance by Marc Fischer

 

 

Ramen Noodles 101

Every day Furious Spoon creates fresh noodles in-house at our Wicker Park and Logan Square locations. We then deliver them to the wonderful staff you see every time you enter the amazing Revival Food Hall.

 

From start to finish, one batch of noodles takes around two hours to complete. Utilizing our imported noodle maker from Japan, our dedicated noodle making team - lead by our Director of Noodle Operations Frankie - perfects each batch of noodles for you to slurp on.

So, do you want to learn how to make ramen noodles from the pros? Furious Spoon offers hands-on noodle making classes at our Logan Square location monthly on select weekends. The two-hour class includes a brief ramen history lesson and guests will learn how to roll and cut noodles on the Japanese noodle machine and will be given a take-home noodle kit that includes noodles, broth recipe and toppings.

Did we mention lunch is included? Each guest will get delicious bowl of ramen, one side dish & one cocktail

Let's talk about smoothie bowls!

What's that, you ask? They are a blend of fruits, berries and nut butters. Topped with dry ingredients, such as ; coconut flakes, granola and cacao nibs. 

 

Our most popular bowl is the Açai, pronounced (ah-sigh-ee). It is high in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. For all of our friends with gluten allergies, don't you worry, the bowls are gluten-free and dairy free…so eat away!  

 

We at Graze are all about putting out that hunger flame, whether it's a healthy option, or a more indulgent option, like our double grass-fed cheeseburgers. However you feel, burger or bowl, we got you covered. And as my favorite food television host says "If it looks good, eat it!"

Ready. Set. Cleanse!

3 Day Juice Cleanse with Harvest JUICERY

Summertime in Chicago is right around the corner! During this feel-good season, it's the perfect time to reset your body of those toxins, stimulate the mind, and have a fresh start to a healthier, happier you!

 

Harvest JUICERY’s 3 Day Juice Cleanse was tested and approved by Jenny Westerkamp, RD, LD, a consulted nutritionist, who helped design the three days consisting of 18 juices and 6 shots. Each day involves 6 juices that rotate between greens, carrot, fennel, nut milk, E3Live, and Aloe Vera. These chef driven cold pressed juices will awaken your taste buds with nutrient packed ingredients yet, give your body the support it needs to naturally eliminate toxins. Cheers to a healthier, happier you just in time for summer!

DRINK UP. LIVE WELL.

Antique Taco Chiquito has you covered!

Food allergies? Special diet? Antique Taco Chiquito has you covered!

·       Gluten-free? You’ll be happy to learn that all of our tacos are served on handmade, non-GMO white corn tortillas. In fact, all of the tacos on our menu are gluten-free, except our crispy fish tacos, which feature a beer-batter tempura. We can also easily leave out the tortilla strips on our Antique Taco Salad to make that gluten-free, as well. Our tortilla chips are made from corn, but please note that they are fried in the same oil as our crispy fish, so there is the potential for gluten cross-contamination. If you’re looking for a gluten-free sweet treat, be sure to try our horchata milkshake, which was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune!

·    Dairy-free? All of our tacos can be easily modified to be dairy-free, except for our sweet & spicy chicken tacos, which feature chicken marinated in Greek yogurt. In addition, we can happily omit the queso fresco from our Antique Taco Salad.

·       Vegetarian or Vegan? We have mushroom tacos and our Antique Taco Salad, which can both be made without cheese upon request. You can also get creative and add mushrooms, guac or avocado to the salad. And of course we have our classic Chips & Guac or Chips & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa that make a great vegetarian or vegan snack.

We strive to have something for everyone here at Antique Taco Chiquito. In addition to our regular menu, we also have weekly specials that may fit your dietary needs. If you have a food allergy or a specific dietary restriction, please let us know when you are ordering and we will be sure to make all necessary modifications and let you know all of your options. Salud!

Union Squared: What in the heck is Detroit-style pizza, anyway?

What in the heck is Detroit-style pizza, anyway?

Our love affair with pizza began when we opened Union, our Neapolitan-style pizzeria in Evanston, in 2008 but our secret love for all things Detroit started long before that. When Revival Food Hall invited us to be a part of their project in 2016, we quickly came to realize the challenges of having a wood-burning oven inside of a food hall, and hand-tossing Neapolitan pies to order at such a demanding pace. We decided this would be the perfect venue to take our pizza expertise and explore our passion for Detroit-style pies, hence the birth of Union Squared.

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The tasty recipe for Detroit-style pizzas are different from Chicago-style pizzas, so we knew it would set us apart from any other pizzerias in the area. We always make our Detroit style pies with light and fluffy dough in the shape of a square, bake them in a Detroit-made black metal pan, load them with creamy Wisconsin brick cheese all the way to the edges, and finish with our delicious house recipe tomato sauce. We offer eleven different whole pies, five 1/4 pies, three salads options and a sandwich, daily. We could put out five varieties of our 1/4 pies fast enough for busy folks on tight work schedules without sacrificing any of the quality that makes them unique and so darn delicious.

One of America’s favorite foods comes complete with its very own piece of American history!
In 1946 Detroit the troops returned from World War II with an interest for the new and different flavors of Europe. In a brilliant stroke of genius, Gus Guerra of Buddy’s enlisted his wife Anna to create a new type of pizza. Anna used her Sicilian Mother’s recipes to create this new pepperoni pie recipe. Together they changed the landscape of pizza in Detroit and greater Michigan forever.

Detroit-style pizzas are totally different from any other pizza in the rest of the country. Some people call them Sicilian red-tops, others call them upside-down pizzas, but most people from Detroit just call it pizza!

We’ve noticed that most Detroiters often seem a little confused about the term “Detroit-style.” They usually just ask, “…You mean like Buddy’s?” and our answer would most definitely be, “We sure hope you think so!”

While our pizza is proudly inspired by our favorite traditional Detroit-style pies like Buddy’s, Cloverleaf, and Shields, we don’t stop there. We are excited to be one of the few in Chicago
sharing some new takes on this delicious Detroit classic!

If you’re used to eating Chicago deep dish, be prepared to experience something quite different. Instead of wanting a nap, this melt-in-your-mouth pizza with a tender fluffy crust, gooey brick cheese, crispy edges and tangy sauce will inevitably leave you wanting more.

If you’re headed north of the city and craving some Detroit pies, please feel free to swing by our beer garden at Union Squared in Evanston. Just like at our flagship store, Union Pizzeria, at Union Squared we prepare our dough and toppings daily with only the finest ingredients that are locally sourced from farmers and butchers whenever possible!

Order a whole pie to share with someone you love today. We hope you love our pies as much as Detroiters love Buddy’s, and we love Detroit!

Aloha Poke: Pro Tips to get that WOW factor you crave!

Aloha has the perfect ØNO Grinds--delicious food--for everyone. Whether you’re a newbie or been on the scene for a hot minute, this guide will help you create a super tasty bowl. Follow these ‘Pro Tips’ to help you combine the ingredients you love to get that WOW factor you crave!

1:  ‘Big-in-a-Kahuna’ or ‘Little-in-a-Big’

 

The Problem: A lot of people talk to us about not having enough room in their bowl, saying things like “I can’t mix anything around,” “It’s too packed,” or “I want to shake it up but there’s no room.” What can we say…we like to pack big bowls 🌴😏😜

The Solution: Ask for a ‘Big’ sized portion in a ‘Kahuna’ sized bowl or ‘Big-in-a-Kahuna’.  That way you can shake and mix around your pokē, combining all the deliciousness into one heaping pile of awesome. You’ll have enough room so your pokē bowl can party. Who knows, there may just be enough room for you to join in with your food as well.

2:  #GetSauced

The Problem: We have a variety of sauces that you may be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and try, but why? Much of the secret to our good eats lies in the sauce.  Here at APC, we have designed our sauces with experts to give specific flavor profiles: spicy, zesty, sweet, citrusy & nutty.  

The Solution: Most sauces mix well together, especially when you combine one mayo based sauce with a non-mayo based sauce. Which combination is our favorite, you ask?  Try the Spicy Aioli & Samurai, which is the featured combo of our Crunch Bowl. You’ll get a lovely combo of creamy zesty and sweet teriyaki.  Need a spicier sauce?  The volcano sauce is the jam.  Otherwise, ask for our Wasabi Sauce on the side.

3:  Keep it simple

The Problem: In a post-recession world, we are constantly seeking the biggest bang for our buck.  This is why most eyes gravitate towards our ‘808’ menu option.  Don’t get us wrong, it’s killer…all of the ingredients and flavors blending together for a pokē fiesta in your mouth!

The Solution: There’s something awesome about a ‘less-is-more’ strategy, especially if you’re someone who struggles to navigate the jungle that is an ‘808’ bowl.  We think you’ll find that 3 or 4 ingredients with 1-2 sauces makes a world of difference.

4:  Fire Rice @ Revival Food Hall

The Problem: Are you looking to take your pokē game to the next level?  We always are.  Our location at the Revival Food Hall is concocting some serious food science, Bill Nye-style.  We like to make some of our hidden favorites for pre-shift meals.  Although we don’t do tacos and we’re not a Korean joint, we’re cooking up what we like to call ‘Fire Rice’.  You want to take your bowl from zero-to-hero?  It’s sweet, nutty, creamy and quite honestly, the perfect base.

The Solution: Ask for Fire Rice in the early or late hours at Revival Food Hall. When your jaw drops, we know it’s because you fell instantly in love with our creation.

5. (MOST IMPORTANT):  Have fun!

The Problem:  If you’re having a hard day, let us know. We’ll accommodate you and talk a little smack about that boss of yours who is kicking you in your knickers.  We want you all to feel comfortable with us so we’re not just another ‘place’ you pick up your food from.

The Solution: Food is fun, period. We love kidding around and creating our ‘Aloha’ environment around jokes, good times, stories and all other shenanigans. You’re our culture, you make our brand.

Well, that’s a wrap folks. There’s never a dull moment at Aloha Pokē Co. and we can’t wait to see all your smiling faces now that you’ve joined the big leagues with all the master knowledge you just gained.  And for all you freshman out there, our question is “What are you waiting for? Try our food already!”

Until next time,

Johnny, Noah & the Pokē crew

The Fat Shallot: Top 10 Sandos in Chicago

Here at The Fat Shallot we take sandwiches very seriously. We are enthusiastic about sandwiches of all shapes, sizes, makes and models. Not only do we love making sandwiches, we love eating them, too.

 A great debate rages over what qualifies as a sandwich. Some people are ingredient purists where a sandwich is any combination of meat, cheese and vegetables between bread. Others believe that and ice cream sandwich is not a sandwich in their eyes. Some live by structural integrity, where a sandwich is made up of two separate, and defined pieces of bread with something in the middle, therefore, a hot dog is not a sandwich by their standards.

 Here at The Fat Shallot we are inclusive of all definitions. We don’t seek to define what a sandwich is, but we know one when we see one. Our team has searched Chicago high and low over the past few years and eaten some of the best sandwiches the city has to offer. In an attempt to spread the love and gospel of sandwiches we have compiled a list of the 10 finest offerings in Chicago.

 Each selection is a fine mixture of great food, great atmosphere and offers a unique experience. Give any of the below sandos a try. We’re confident you will come away loving these places too.

-Grilled Pork Banh Mi at Tank Noodle:
Amongst many great banh mis on Argyle Street, this one is our favorite. Served on crusty French bread with classic garnishes; cilantro, carrot, cucumber and jalapenos.

-Superdawg at Superdawg:
This is a great classic Chicago dog served alongside crinkle cut fries. The pickled green tomatoes are really what steal our heart. On top of that, we’re swooning over Superdawg’s old-fashioned drive-up hot dog stand and giant caveman hotdog on the roof of the restaurant.


-Corned Beef on Rye with mustard at Manny’s Deli:
It’s hard to beat the classics. Served hot and piled high, for some reason it just tastes better than when you make it at home. Being served lunch counter-style also helps.

-Carne Asada Burrito at Taqueria Asadero:
In a city of many taquerias, this one reigns supreme in our book. Order it with cilantro and onion only. Splash on some of the salsa verde and me-oh-my, you’ve hit burrito heaven.

-Meatball Sub with provolone at D’Amato’s Bakery:
It’s hard to choose at D’Amato’s, because everything looks amazing and nothing disappoints. Meatball Sub is our go-to and we never order it without a cannoli on the side.

-Cevapcici at Beograd Café:
A self-assembled Cevapcici is the most amazing sandwich you’ve never heard of.
Cevapcici is a Serbian and Croatian sausage made from lamb, pork and beef, traditionally served on a pita-like flatbread with raw onions and red pepper sauce called ajvar and sour cream.

 

-Al Pastor Cemita at Cemitas Puebla:
We first discovered this hole-in-the-wall gem at its long time home on North Avenue. It’s since moved to Fulton Market and the food still holds up. We pass on the more notable Cemita Atomica for one filled with pork Al Pastor. 

-Burger at Au Cheval:
There is a lot of hype and publicity surrounding the burger at Au Cheval. Despite our high expectations, we weren’t disappointed. It really is pretty awesome.

-Italian Beef at Mr. Beef:
As Chicagoans at heart, we have a severe weakness for Italian beef. A sandwich done simply and done right with jus and spicy giardiniera at Mr. Beef, it’s hard to pass the sign without stopping in for a quick one.

- Masala Dosai at Udupi Palace:
Calling it a sandwich may be a stretch, but it is a filling surrounded by starch. This Indian-style crepe can be picked up and eaten sandwich style so we’re counting it. A vegetarian standout on Devon, Udupi Palace serves up a flavor packed dosai with chutney on the side for dipping. You won’t miss the meat.

Revival Cafe Bar | Purple Martin # 2

Things have been busy over at Revival Café-Bar, but we are looking forward to warmer weather and sourcing some fun beers, wines and mixing new cocktails that will quench your thirst and keep things cool at the food hall. Currently, we’re getting ready to unleash the newest expression of our collaborative beer with Hopewell Brewing Company, the Café Saison 2.0 – a beer that will seriously make you rethink coffee beers.

Our bar team has also been hard at work crafting new original cocktails for our spring menu. We’re all very excited to share the results of our work with guests, as each drink tells a different story. One of the more peculiar submissions for this round came from our lead bartender, Mark Phelan, with his Purple Martin #2. To explain this cocktail, it’s best we let Mark tell the story:

Sitting with one foot out of a cab near the intersection of California and Augusta, I pause to let a gust of spent cigarettes and food wrappers roll past like tumbleweeds. They settle under the red neon glow of The California Clipper, and I open the car door to watch them scatter into the air behind me like embers. The city skyline is a faint haze from this distance, a separate entity. Upon entering the bar, I’m fully transported to somewhere new, but I’m not sure where or in what year the place belongs. There are brothel-esq red lights beaming down from either side into the otherwise pitch-black interior. Cracked vinyl booths and a long, curved, sheen-less bar outline the space with dark figures of chairs and Formica square-top tables scattered in between. Once at the bar, my eyes adjust. A man with a cooler full of tamales makes his rounds. A gangly figure tunes a banjo on a small stage at the far end of the room. The whole place is weather-beaten, worn and lived-in. There is no denying its authenticity. It feels good in here.

 

I was not a bartender back then. I eventually traded an expendable income and a general numbness for a leaner check and the priceless feeling of enjoying what I do everyday. At The California Clipper, Anthony pours me a glass of water and hands me the menu. At the top, priced at $6, is the amusing combination of grape soda, coconut rum and lemon. It is called the Purple Martin. I’m told it is the house cocktail and the only one on the menu that is not a classic. It is built in a tall, curved glass over thin cubes of ice, topped with grape soda and garnished with a lemon wedge.

 I order the Purple Martin.

 Under the red glare of the lights, it’s hard to tell how unnaturally purple the drink really is. Sipping it at a bar that is pre-grooved for my forearms to rest upon, while listening to the sporadic plucking of banjo strings, it’s hard to really care. In this moment, the cocktail is sweet and tart and refreshing. It becomes more than a drink. The Purple Martin is an experience. It’s a timestamp of the old Clipper, a less polished Humboldt Park and a younger me discovering Chicago. This drink and this night became one in a series of authentic experiences that led to my becoming a bartender.

Purple Martin #2

Coconut Rum, Hennessy VS congnac, verjus, lemon, Combier Fruits Rouge, Angostura, cinnamon cream

Hot Chocolate Bakery: Dream Bar Recipe

Dream Bar Recipe by Mindy Segal

Mindy Segal’s “Dream Bars” have certainly made their rounds over the years. When she was a kid, family friend Phyllis Grossman passed the recipe along to Segal’s mom, which later made its way into her own hands. After baking several different versions of the sweet treat with various kinds of chocolates, ranging from milk chocolate to hot fudge, Segal’s favorite filling has become bittersweet chocolate. The Dream Bars are a one-of-a-kind dessert that you can now make at home with the recipe below:

Yields 30 bars

INGREDIENTS

  • ○  4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64% to 66% cacao), melted
  • ○  1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ○  1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • ○  1 tablespoon water
  • ○  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ○  2 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • ○  2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ○  1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ○  1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ○  1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ○  1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

PREPARATION

  1. Invert a baking sheet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Line the top with parchment paper. With an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly across the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm, approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly coat a quarter sheet (9 by 13-inch) pan or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and beat the butter mixture until it is aerated, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
  4. Add the water and vanilla to the egg yolks. On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, mixing briefly until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds per yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make it nearly homogeneous.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not over mix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
  7. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula and then your fingertips, press the dough into the corners of the pan and smooth the surface.
  8. Remove the chocolate from the freezer and break it up into shards. Scatter the chocolate shards across the surface of the dough and then press into the dough. Cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing down through the plastic to smooth down the top. Refrigerate until the dough is set, at least 20 minutes or overnight. (If refrigerating the dough overnight, refrigerate the egg whites as well, letting them come to room temperature before proceeding with the meringue.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until frothy, approximately 45 seconds. Add the brown sugar and whip on medium-high speed until shiny peaks form and the meringue holds its shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the meringue evenly over the chilled dough.
  3. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until the meringue resembles a lightly toasted marshmallow, 23 to 25 minutes. It will start to crack on the sides but should still be slightly soft in the center, and the shortbread should be cooked through but still pale-not golden brown. (Do not overbake or the shortbread will be too crumbly to cut.) Cool completely in the pan. Once cool, refrigerate until chilled.
  4. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the bars lengthwise into 3 strips. Cut the bars crosswise into 10 strips to make small, rectangular bars. Serve the bars at room temperature.

The bars can be baked, cooled, then refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Where did “The Budlong Hot Chicken” come from? 

Where did “The Budlong Hot Chicken” come from? 

The inspiration behind The Budlong Hot Chicken started waaaaay back in 2014. I was visiting Nashville to attend a BBQ conference on behalf of my other restaurant, BBQ Supply Co. in Rogers Park. As I do in all of my travels, I queried the locals as to where I needed to eat while in town. Nashvillians are very friendly, easy to talk to and they really love their city. I was offered many different suggestions, ranging from fancy farm-to-table dining at Husk, all the way to patty melts at the Hermitage Café. One Nashville-specific recommendation was on everyone’s list: Hot Chicken. At the time, this dish was little known outside of the music city and, admittedly, I had never heard of it, but had to go try it. 

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My first hot chicken experience was at the newcomer in town, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. This spot was HOT. Located just down the street from Pepperdine University, this restaurant was clearly a tourist and local favorite. The line stretched out the door and the wait was over an hour long, leaving a long time for me to wonder, “Could it be that good?” I hate lines, but waited anyways because I HAD to try this local favorite. It was worth the wait and did not disappoint. The customer service was top notch, the cashier coached us on the varying heat levels, and the food came out piping hot in about 20 minutes. My first bite could only be ruled as deliciously spicy. It was unlike any fried chicken I’d ever had. I tasted the crunchy crust first, followed by the juicy chicken. Both winners. The heat came in at the very end and grew stronger with each bite. It was an incredible experience and I was immediately hooked.

After Hattie B’s, I visited Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack (the original), followed by Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish (started by a former Prince’s employee) and neither spot disappointed. Prince’s was the clear winner for me, as their chicken had this old-school feel to it that was full of character. Each spot had its own unique flavor, but all with a common theme: slow burn, crunchy and juicy fried chicken. I knew Chicago needed this. 

I returned home from Nashville and immediately began my research and development into cooking hot chicken. First and foremost, the dish starts with juicy fried chicken. Similar to BBQ, fried chicken is simple, old-fashioned comfort food, leading one to believe it’s easy to make. However, just like BBQ, it has a depth and technique that can only be mastered through trial and error. I hosted many different chicken labs, inviting chefs, family and friends to fried chicken tastings, taking notes on their thoughts along the way. I literally cooked and ate fried chicken for 60 days straight. Every. Single. Day. 

The research to create the perfect hot chicken was intense. I tried everything to find a method that I liked, from using wet batter, to dry flour, different seasonings and oils, varying temperatures, deep frying vs. pan frying, dry brine vs. wet brine, different cuts of chicken and more until we finally stumbled upon a technique that really blew our minds and taste buds. 

After the fried chicken was perfected, we began to work on the “hot” flavor. All Nashville Hot Chicken is traditionally made “hot” with cayenne pepper bloomed in oil. From there, you then decide what other spices to add and if you want a wet or dry“hot”. I tried about 25 different ways to make the chicken hot, including making a few more pilgrimages to Nashville to take notes about what I liked and didn’t like in the various versions. 

After about a full year of research and development, I made what I considered the best hot chicken I’d ever had. Along the way, I signed a lease on a store in Lincoln Square, where I live with my family, to begin sharing my delicious discovery. However, we still needed a name for this vehicle of hot chicken goodness.

The name of the restaurant is an ode to The Budlong family farm, founded by Lyman and Joseph Budlong in 1857 on roughly 500 acres of sandy-soil. The land is now modern-day Lincoln Square. The sandy soil was the perfect environment for growing root vegetables, such as cucumbers and beets, and became the main product of the family farm. The family also had a pickle company, The Budlong Pickle Co., and sold jars of pickled vegetables from the farm. How does this family and their pickles relate to our fried chicken, you ask? Along with classic white bread, every order of Nashville Hot Chicken is served with a few slices of heat-softening pickles, much like those sold on The Budlong farm. Hence, The Budlong Hot Chicken was born, and will forever be.

Written by Jared Leonard

Black Dog Gelato : Sweet fun in the Summer

April showers bring May flowers, but most importantly, a glimpse of the sweet Chicago summer to come. Summer is Chicago’s favorite season and a big deal for us at Black Dog Gelato. It’s when we do 80% of our business!  

In anticipation for summer, we are hard at work hiring more seasonal staff and developing new flavors to make sure we are all set to keep you cool throughout the season. We are just as excited as you are! While we all wait patiently for the sun to come out and the temperature to rise, here are some fun statistics about Black Dog Gelato to tide you over:

  • 10,000 spoons are used in a week in the summer  
  • 700 gallons of gelato are made during an average summer week
  • 100 - number of summer weddings Black Dog Gelato caters 
  • 75 rotating flavors are offered throughout the year 
  • 7 days a week, our original location on Damen Ave. is open for business in the summer
  • 6 a.m. - the time the kitchen starts making the gelato for the day
  • 5 summer festivals where you can snag our gelato
  • 5 pm- the time that the 2-for-1 Cones special starts each day for Gelato Happy Hour at our Revival Food Hall location
  • 3 flavors that were suggested by guests to Chef Jessie and ended up on the menu: Nutella Pretzel, Basil Coffee and Butterscotch Bourbon Pecan

Smoque BBQ: The Sweet Mystery of Brisket

 The Smoque BBQ outlet at the Revival Food Hall offers a small menu with four different proteins and 3 sides. If you look at what we sell on any given day, we sell more brisket than anything else. To us, it’s not really all that surprising. Brisket is what we’re known for and we have smoked millions of pounds of the stuff in the ten years since Smoque first opened on the Northwest side. 

Brisket at Smoque was introduced to diversify a pork-centric menu, and we didn’t expect to sell that much of it. In a town known for baby back ribs, hot-smoked rib tips and spicy link sausage, the brisket quickly became a runaway best seller at our restaurant. Around the time that we added brisket to the menu, America’s love affair with the meat really began to take off and Smoque was fortunate to catch a ride on the rising wave. 

What is the appeal of this cut of meat that has taken America by storm? Well, for one thing, it just tastes good! Pork BBQ is often thought of as a blank canvas onto which the pit master can paint a wide range of flavors. You will find BBQ masters and restaurant pros brining, injecting, rubbing, spraying, mopping and saucing pork to derive a deep flavor. However, injecting a brisket is really gilding the lily. The key to a good brisket is to season it, put it in the smoker, and then get out of the way. It can be best compared to a gemstone, where by careful cutting and faceting, you bring out the inherent brilliance that lies within. At Smoque, we of course serve sauce with our brisket, but always on the side as an accent, not the main event.

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Smoking a good brisket is seen as a special challenge in the world of BBQ. America has developed an obsession with smoking, and brisket is to the amateur smoker what Mt. Everest is to the first-time climber. It’s the ultimate challenge and the most unforgiving thing to try to smoke. Hobbyist smokers can generally take a pork shoulder or a slab of ribs, smoke it, and arrive at something edible and even tasty. However, a botched attempt at brisket can yield something that, while physically safe to consume, is basically inedible. 

I often get requests from enthusiasts and hobbyists for advice. Even in experienced hands, brisket just doesn’t lend itself to standardization. At every step, it demands expert judgment and a level of artisanship and attention to detail that can’t be operationalized. A raw brisket is covered in a thick, hard layer of fat. It needs to be pared down before it is rubbed and smoked. If you leave on too much fat, no one will want to eat it. Leave too little fat, and you risk exposing the lean meat underneath and drying it out. There is no way to look at an individual brisket and tell how deep the fat layer is. It takes time and hands-on experience trimming lots of briskets to find the perfect balance. 

Learning how to smoke a brisket is just as difficult as the initial prep work. I’ve often seen on menus things like, “Try our thirteen-hour smoked brisket.” When I see that, I hope it is a guideline rather than a rule. There is really only one correct answer to the question, “How long do you smoke a brisket?” The answer is: “Until it’s done.” A general number of hours and a temperature gauge are an excellent starting point, but the only way to really know if a brisket it done is to feel it. There’s a certain soft, but not too soft, semi-gelatinous bounce that the meat has when it’s ready to come out.

Even when it’s wrapped and ready to serve, a brisket will present challenges that require a skilled hand. A cut of meat comprises two major muscles overlying each other, each with a strong grain running in divergent directions. Slicing it is something of an art and every BBQ joint has its own approach. Even for our chopped brisket, which looks like an undifferentiated mass of meat shreds, there is more to it than meets the eye. A good chopped brisket is a blend of fatty and lean pieces, as well as outer bark and interior pieces to give the best balance of flavor and texture.  

Ultimately, brisket is one of those things that will reward you for the care that you put into it. Even after ten years, we are still learning and trying to improve our process and product. In fact, some of the practices we instituted for doing brisket at Revival Food Hall have served us so well, that we put them into effect at the original location. 

One of my favorite things about Smoque at Revival Food Hall is how brisket takes the pride of place in our operation. When you wait in line for lunch, you can watch as each brisket is unwrapped and flopped on the cutting board with the steam rising and juices running as it’s cut. Customers engaged in conversation while in line will often fall silent as they approach the cutting station with all eyes turning to the barky, juicy brisket sitting on the cutting board. The mere sight of the prior order being made is enough to convince the next person in line to order the same thing. “The stuff really sells itself,” as I often tell my crew. 

Danke: Flour Power

Handmade bread is the cornerstone of Danke’s menu. It is the base for our handcrafted sandwiches and the perfect accompaniment for our customizable charcuterie and cheese plates. Our skilled team begins each day by taking dough that fermented overnight, and form into rustic baguettes that are then baked in a hot stone deck oven. These crusty loaves are made in the traditional European way, using a natural starter culture that acts as a leavening agent, as well as a long fermentation period that adds layers of flavor. We pride ourselves on being one of only a handful of restaurants in Chicago that produce this style of bread.

In most of Europe, freshly baked bread is a pillar of local culture and cuisine. However, in America, and especially Chicago, it is often an afterthought and rarely eaten fresh. Even though sandwiches are arguably the most American of all foods, the bread that holds them together is usually generic and almost never baked on-site daily.

When I opened Table, Donkey and Stick in 2012, I was inspired by the European traditions of baking and charcuterie. I hoped the restaurant would truly show our guests how delicious something as humble as bread and salami can be when made without using any shortcuts. Although Danke’s format is very different than Table, Donkey and Stick, we are driven by that same spirit. Our house baguettes, and the sandwiches made from them, have received rave reviews in the Chicago TribuneChicago Reader, and other publications. Come try one for yourself!

Meet The Vendors: Curbside Books & Records

Customers frequently ask me why we opened a book and record store in a food hall. It’s a fair question, but if you think about it in terms of the artisanal spirit of craft, it makes sense. We meticulously choose our materials the same way the food vendors at Revival Food Hall carefully select ingredients to craft their menus.

Our books come from small presses and local publishers, and we work very closely with Chicago musicians and independent record labels to present a unique selection of records. We hand pick every book and record based on what we love to read and listen to ourselves and the overall quality of each individual piece.  It’s exciting that we can get these works into the hands of people who love them just as much as we do.

We want to be a haven in the chaos of the Loop. Grab some coffee from the Revival Café Bar and listen to our featured album spinning on the record player or browse through our selection of literary magazines. Chat with us about your favorite author or recording artist, or simply ask for recommendations.

We have the opportunity to talk about books and music all day amongst the great selection of food vendors, and aside from the daily difficulties of deciding what to eat, we feel right at home in Revival Food Hall.

Meet The Vendors: Revival Café Bar

There is a theory in Human Evolution that claims that coffee had a direct impact on the mental development of early man. While we may never know if that’s true or not, we do know that coffee has had a very serious and clear impact on human civilization time and time again. One of the earliest coffee houses in London, called Lloyd’s of London, was located just near the docks. Merchant marines, ship owners, and purchasers would loiter here, drinking coffee and playing games while they waited for their ships to come in.

The owners of the coffee house started taking bets on which ships would return and which ones wouldn’t. Over time, the owners of the ships got smart and started betting that their ships wouldn’t return, making them some money either way. Thus, the world's first and largest insurance firm was born, and Lloyd’s of London stopped slinging coffee to focus on the betting game. 

Lloyd’s of London is just one example of the transformative effect that coffee has had over the course of history. When tracing the path that coffee has taken throughout Europe, one can see great accomplishments in the arts, sciences, and political spheres, especially in dense, urban populations.

Today, a lot of us take the affects of coffee for granted. It has simply become a necessity to start the day. However, there was a time when it was new and novel. Imagine trying coffee for the first time when you are 30 or 40 years old, feeling the fog lift from your brain that you didn’t know was even there once the coffee takes hold. This sensation catapulted people into deeper thinking and talking in ways they never had before, generating new ideas and innovations. They would gather in a coffee house, get “coffee drunk”, and work out problems. Whether you gather with coffee at home or at coffee house, the caffeinated beverage has become a central component to socializing in many parts of the world.

In Chicago, we have the privilege of witnessing a coffee renaissance. The joy that people get from this simple seed continues to spark scrutiny and innovation. As science advances, so does coffee as farming and harvesting continues to improve, as well as new developments in roasting techniques and extraction theory. Baristas geek out about these new ideas, such as the cultivation of an Ethiopia genetic in Guatemala soil or the various levels of Honey processing. In the end though, we all just want to make a great cup of coffee.

Beyond all the stories, science, myths and methods, the great equalizer is the feeling you get when you take that first sip of a great cup of coffee. It takes care, a spirit of giving and sharing, as well as openness for inspiration.