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.

Meet The Vendors: The Fat Shallot

Now one of Chicago’s favorite food trucks for gourmet sandwiches, The Fat Shallot came to life from co-owners and married couple Sam Barron and Sarah Weitz. The pair was simply seeking a way to balance married life with their busy schedules in the culinary world. In 2013, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance allowing for food trucks to cook fresh, made-to-order food on-the-go. With timing on their side, the couple received one of the first on-board cooking licenses granted to a food truck in Chicago. Their vision began with a desire to offer customers unique versions of classic sandwiches with gourmet flair. Thus, The Fat Shallot was born.

Before becoming the couple known for selling delicious sandwiches from a big red food truck, Sam and Sarah bonded over all things delicious. Their first conversation even revolved around the importance of butter. Sam was at the end of a three-year stint at Chicago’s four-star restaurant, Everest, when the two decided to take a chance and move to San Sebastian, Spain. When they weren’t indulging in Spanish tapas, wine and immersing themselves in the culture, Sam continued to hone his skills working at a three- starred Michelin restaurant under legendary chef, Martin Berasategui.

A love of street food was kindled when Sam and Sarah spent the next year together traveling through India and Asia. During this time, they gained an understanding of the importance of taking pride in simple, humble food.

Upon their return to the U.S., Sam and Sarah settled on New Orleans as their next home. They spent a year living in the Crescent City, where Sam cooked professionally at Bayona with acclaimed chef Susan Spicer. During this time, the two developed an appreciation for the food and culture of New Orleans, which still inspires them in their cooking today.

They then moved to Chicago in 2011 where Sam worked as sous chef alongside Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the re-opened Pump Room. After 18 months of hard work and long hours, Sam and Sarah decided the timing was right to be their own bosses and opened The Fat Shallot food truck in May 2013.

From day one, the goal of The Fat Shallot was to offer recognizable sandwiches and sides that people would crave on a daily basis. The focus on sandwiches has created a wide canvas for creating delicious and memorable offerings, while still allowing Sam the room to integrate his culinary chops. The Fat Shallot strives to reintroduce people to some of their favorite lunch items and remind them why the classics are “The Classics”. After all, bacon, lettuce and tomato taste really great together!

Besides adding two children to the mix, Sam and Sarah opened a second food truck, The Fat Pickle, as well as their first brick and mortar outpost at Revival Food Hall in 2016. Having a stationary space has allowed the team to branch out and offer new items that are not available on the food trucks. They are also beyond thrilled to have a restroom and air conditioning on the premises at Revival!

Today Sarah and Sam have an amazing crew helping them operate both food trucks and the stall at Revival. Jacob, Nick, Gabe, Dave, Nate, Jeff, Courtney, Isaac and Gerald all work tirelessly to make amazing sandwiches and help foster the fun and lively atmosphere that they all treasure.

Come to Revival and find The Fat Shallot by the Adams Street entrance on your next lunch. Try the Truffle BLT, Turkey, Grilled Cheese, Duck PB&J and rediscover why sandwiches rule!

Meet The Vendors: Farmer's Fridge

You may already be familiar with the Farmer’s Fridge stall at Revival Food Hall, but did you know that we also operate our fresh vending Fridges in over 50 locations across the city of Chicago? You’re probably close to one right now! Known for our colorful, healthy salads and creamy avocado toast, we’re on a mission to make wholesome, balanced meals that are readily available to everyone with the help of our smart touchscreen-enabled Fridges. Our outstanding delivery team works overnight to keep the Fridges stocked with the freshest salads, meals, and snacks, all prepared in-house by our talented kitchen crew in our Fulton Market kitchen.

The Revival location of Farmer’s Fridge is the one-and-only “brick and mortar” location. It has given us the great opportunity to be face-to-face with our customers, something that is hard to do at the automated Fridges. It is also a test kitchen for our culinary team. Our Culinary Director, Jesse Szewczyk, uses the Revival location to test new flavors and dishes, as well as gather customer feedback. The best offerings stay on the menu, and sometimes even end up in the jars in our Fridges. 

One of our most recent recipe testing successes is the Kale Caesar Salad. The salad was on the original Revival Food Hall opening menu back in August. When it was “retired” to make space for a new menu item, our customers vehemently requested its return. We love hearing our customer’s feedback, so we listened, updated the Kale Caesar Salad and reintroduced on the menu. Due to such positive feedback at Revival, the Kale Caesar will soon be making its jar debut in Fridges all over Chicagoland.

Not sure where to find the closest Fridge? Click here!

In the meantime, stop in and see us at Revival to get your Kale Caesar fix, and to see what other new things we’re cooking up. We’d love to hear your input!

Meet The Vendors: Brown Bag Seafood Co

How to grow responsibly 101.

Brown Bag Seafood Co. at Revival Food Hall is our second location to pop up since we first opened doors in Chicago’s New East Side neighborhood. Like any new opening, this was a very exciting process. From start to finish, we were thrilled and inspired to be surrounded by so many innovative food and dining concepts at Revival Food Hall.

BBSCO-1 (1).jpg

With that said, what does one do when they are excited? Typically, they move swiftly, which often means they aren’t fully analyzing every move they make. For instance, we decided to create a new take on our top-selling “Powerbox.” On top of the original Powerbox build of ancient grains and spinach, we added a layer of sautéed veggies. At the time, I thought I was taking the most popular item from our original menu and making it even more appealing. As I found out in our 4th month of operation, I should’ve thought this through more thoroughly, as the original Powerbox continues to be our #1 seller at Revival Food Hall, while the “new and improved” Powerbox lags behind the rest.

After the hectic first 90 days of a new opening, most restaurant operators find the time to analyze the business. In our case, I looked at the performance of our first location, compared with the second, and something was notably different. I ran through all common factors. Did the dishwasher on staff for only two weeks steal in September?  Is my staff not trained properly? Are my vendors jabbing me with crazy new pricing? No. No. No. So, what was it?!

BBSCO-2.jpg

After diving deep into all possibilities, we realized that the little willy nilly decision to toss on sautéed veggies is what killed us. We are now in the process of bridging the gap to create a consistent definition of the “Powerbox” at both of our Brown Bag Seafood Co. locations. The same will hold true for our 3rd restaurant opening in Roscoe Village this summer.  So, the lesson here is, repeat what works and experiment responsibly!

-Donna Lee

Founder, Brown Bag Seafood Co.

Meet The Vendors: Black Dog Gelato

With Chicago winter in full swing, it might not seem like peak gelato season, but at Black Dog Gelato, we respectfully disagree. Fact: gelato is delicious all year long! Not to mention, a real Chicagoan can’t be stopped by a little cold or snow.

Photo by Artisian Events

Photo by Artisian Events

Our catering team at Black Dog stays especially busy during the winter months, particularly for weddings and special events. Black Dog Gelato creates something a little more personalized and Chicago-centric than the everyday wedding cake. There’s definitely something unique and fun about hitting the dance floor with a cone of Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel gelato, or toasting to the bride and groom with a Root Beer float. 

One of our favorite and most beloved Black Dog Gelato wedding traditions is to offer a “first scoop” instead of a first bite of cake. It’s always a thrill for us to be a part of someone’s big day, and we love the opportunity to customize a special event experience for our regulars and newcomers alike.

Photo by Artisian Events

Photo by Artisian Events

Black Dog Gelato offers our award-winning gelato to be catered for everything from weddings, special events and corporate functions. Whether it’s a drop off with one of our custom gelato pushcarts, or fully staffed service on-site, we provide a wide range of services to make each event as clever and unique as our flavors.

 

Meet The Vendors: Mindy's HotChocolate Bakery

HotChocolate Bakery at Revival Food Hall wouldn’t be what it is without the hard-working, knowledgeable, and service-driven staff. We take pride in our employees as much as we take pride in our products, which is why we are dedicating this post to one of our front-of-house managers: Priscilla Connelly.

PC-jewelry.jpg

 In addition to working at the bakery, Connelly has her own line of beautiful, handmade jewelry. Inspired by her grandmother, who also made jewelry, Connelly took up the craft at the young age of 8 years old. Using almost all recycled or second-hand materials, she focuses on giving her pieces a uniquely vintage look. Her custom creations include earrings, bracelets, and necklaces and that she handpicks every bead and piece of metal used, so you know they are made with love!

Connelly’s hand-crafted jewelry can be purchased through her Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shops/prisconnjewelry) or by sending her an e-mail at priscillaconnelyjewelry@gmail.com.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, these one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry make the perfect gift for your hunny, along with some special treats the bakery to curb your sweet tooth! Valentine’ Day inspired goodies include mini cakes & pies, packaged truffles & chocolates, and heart-shaped cookies that will available starting February 9th! #xoMindy 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @hotchocolatebakery !

Meet The Vendors: Antique Taco Chiquito

The Chef

Rick Ortiz - At Antique Taco Chiquito, we blend the freshest ingredients available from the Midwest with my Mexican heritage. The menu reflects my mix of culinary experiences, culminating from every kitchen I have worked in, my education from Kendall College and my travels abroad.

As a chef, you always dream of opening a restaurant. I never imagined I would have my own restaurant inspired by all the things that I love most; meaningful food, antiques and the opportunity to work alongside my creative wife and an extremely dedicated team.

The story of Antique Taco comes with many drafts, but the goal has always been the same, to create delicious, thoughtful food.

The Creative Director

Ashley Ortiz - Antique Taco is a combination of everything we love: flavorful food, antique style, and the comfort of home.

When envisioning the design Antique Taco, I knew incorporating antique touches in the restaurant was a must. Our vintage neon sign gives more than just an instant wow factor; it tells a story. The history behind each antique piece can often be the best part.

Having been an event planner for the past seven years, I consider every meal a true celebration. Each interior detail is carefully thought out, reviewed and then simplified. It is the detail that people remember but also the simplicity.

The story of Antique Taco is a simple one, find what you love and do it with passion!

ATC-Image-2.jpg

The CEO

Scout Ortiz - While my parents handle day-to-day responsibilities at Antique Taco, I step in frequently to provide love & laughter.

Meet The Vendors: Harvest Juicery

Harvest JUICERY’s inception was Kristina Sciarra’s brainchild after spending time working in both the restaurant and wellness industries. After seeing her own health benefits from juicing, Kristina’s passion drove her to blend the two. Eventually, transforming an idea into the “modern-day milkman”, delivering cold-pressed juices around Chicago and in her own storefronts.

HJ’s chef-driven recipes create juices, nut milks, smoothies, avocado toasts and seasonal bowls through organic or ‘hand-picked’ partnerships with local farms; integrating fresh herbs, spices, and 2-3 pounds of fruits and vegetables in each 16-ounce bottle. The end result: delicious, nutrient-dense food and drink.

HJ is excited to be able to spread the cold pressed love throughout downtown via Revival Food Hall with our Juices and Smoothies in addition to our original storefront in the West Loop.

We are making healthy taste good and having fun doing it!

Drink Up. Live Well.

Cheers!

Meet The Vendors: Aloha Poke

Kanoa and The Grandmother

Working in a food hall has its challenges, but one thing that stays constant is the overall consensus that ‘food is life’.  As cooks, managers, servers, baristas or personnel, we hold a high standard for food in all of its capacities, as well as to make sure that the customer is fully taken care of.  We consistently strive to create the ‘next level’ dish and know that taste is most important.  In making sure that customer service comes first, we are left to the finer details in the back of the house, ensuring that no matter what ingredients we’re using, they always taste delicious.  A happy customer is a repeat customer.

Please enjoy reading my story, as these are the things that I hold dear to my heart.  A young kid in search of a passion is something special, and as adults, we sometimes forget how simple that idea really is.

See you soon,

Noah Feldman

 

He’d always wanted to learn how to cook.  Most of the boys in his school were interested in video games or girls, but not for Kanoa.  He was more interested in figuring out the complexities of sauce, the equal distribution of salt and pepper into a vegetable medley, or what it meant to ‘chiffonade’ herbs.

On his way home from school, Kanoa would steal a pineapple from one of the neighboring farms and bring it home to his grandmother.  The smells wafting from the kitchen were intoxicating; sage leaves soaked in butter and brown sugar, flaking puff pastry, cinnamon and sweet potatoes.  These were the things that Kanoa most looked forward to.

As he walked inside, he noticed that his grandmother was chopping garlic.  Without turning around, she asked him a very familiar question.

“Do you have it?”

Kanoa pulled his book bag off his shoulder, reached into the larger pocket and pulled out the pineapple.  He handed it to her gently.

“Here it is” he said with a grin from ear to ear.

She took a deep breath and smelled the pineapple.  After exhaling, she took comfort in knowing that its ripeness was spot on.  She could smell the sugars developing as the aroma was thick from the outer shell...just one of her ways to test that the pineapple was ready.  Just to be certain, she grabbed one of the leaves from the top of the fruit and plucked it, coming out as easy as water from a faucet.

“Easy peasy” said the grandmother.

What was about to happen in the kitchen was what Kanoa thought was magic.  A combination of flavors and ingredients all coming together to create something as divine as a sunset on a warm summer day.  And it wasn’t just the physical things.  Kanoa would watch his grandmother and her processes; each stage specifically designed to craft and wield into the next, setting off a chain reaction like dominos crashing into one another.

“Chop, slice, cut.  Pinch the blade of the knife with your thumb and index finger like this” she said as she showed him how to correctly hold the instrument.  “Cut forward, not back.  Tuck your fingers and thumb in on your non-cutting hand so that you don’t chop them...OFF!”

Kanoa pulled his fingers back just in time before the blade took his hand off.

“Always be aware.  And focused.  You could end up in the hospital if you’re not careful” she repeated often.

“You have multiple things going on in the kitchen at once.  Potatoes boiling, oven preheating, chopping vegetables, timers.  Organize yourself.  Give yourself enough time to make sure that if you make a mistake, it can be fixed.  Don’t assume.  Know.”

Kanoa had a difficult time taking it all in but knew that if he repeated her processes, over time, they would come to him naturally.  He observed.  That’s what he was good at.

His grandmother had finished cutting the sweet potatoes and put them into the pot of boiling water.  Once done chopping garlic, she moved it to the side of the cutting board.  Her herbs and spices had been put in proper containers so that they were ready to be distributed proportionately.

“This is the time where we wait until the potatoes are cooked.  Let’s sit down”.

Kanoa and his grandmother sat down at the kitchen table, which was lined with a red and white checkerboard tablecloth.  In the middle of the table was a Lazy Susan containing typical condiments: ketchup, salt/pepper, a tchotchke doll from a recent vacation and hot sauce.  Adjacent to the table were black and white photographs of Kanoa’s parents.  He missed them dearly.

“How was school today?” she asked.

“Fine”  he replied.

“What did you learn?” she wondered.

“Nothing” he responded.

This was typical table chit chat.  Often times, the grandmother became upset but never expressed it externally.  She usually brushed off Kanoa’s subtleness with a loud sigh and proceeded to the more important questions...the questions that she knew she would get an accurate response from.

“How do the pineapples grow?” she asked already knowing the answer but to see if Kanoa was paying attention.

“Pineapples grow to be between 1 and 1.5m tall.  The plant has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves,” he responded.

“Go on” she insisted.

“Once the plant flowers, the fruit is called a pineapple”.

“And what are the uses of a pineapple?” she asked for more.

“In some cultures, the pineapple is sold on roadsides as a snack.  Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts and savory dishes such as pizza, grilled rings for hamburgers or fruit salads.  Crushed pineapple is used in yogurts, jams and sweets.  And pineapple juice for drinks such as a pina colada” he answered.

“Very good.  Up we go”.

The grandmother turned off the stove.  Kanoa grabbed a strainer from the cabinet and placed it into the sink.  When finished, he took the potatoes and dumped the pot into the strainer, catching the cooked pieces.  He put the pot back on the stove and added the garlic that was chopped before.  The tiny pieces began to sizzle as the pot was still at a high temperature.  Kanoa shook the remaining water off of the potatoes and dumped them back into the pot adding some cream and butter.  The grandmother handed him the potato masher and, with a grin, told him to go for it.

He mashed up the potatoes well until they were smooth.  While stirring, he added the correct amount of salt, pepper, cinnamon and sage to the mixture.  The grandmother began cutting the pineapple, first the shell and then again over the eyelets so that it was flush all around.  Cutting around the stem, she sliced lengthwise into long pieces and then into tiny cubes.  Once finished, she poured the juice into a glass (Kanoa’s favorite) and disposed of the rubbish into the container.

The grandmother laid out the pieces of puff pastry into 6x6 inch squares.  Once finished, Kanoa placed a large spoonful of the potato mixture in the middle of each square, then polished the top with a couple of tiny pineapple chunks.  Another small dash of cinnamon was dusted on top before they began using the egg wash on the sides of the pastry.  Once complete, Kanoa folded one side over and then the other, creating a puff pastry pocket.  In Hispanic cultures, they called this an empanada.  Or in Asian cultures, a dumpling.  It was his favorite snack not just because he loved the taste, but because he was able to spend time with the grandmother; a person he looked up to, a teacher and most important, family.

After all of the squares were folded over, they placed them into the oven on a baking sheet at 425 degrees.

“Now we wait 30 minutes” she said.

Kanoa and the grandmother walked into the living room.  It was tiny, with a rather beaten up cloth reclining chair and love seat.  Above the TV hung Kanoa’s fathers surf board, an old Arrow longboard fluorescent blue in color.  Pictures lined the walls, old photos of traditional Hawaiian culture.  Parties on the beach, people on the street.  It reminded them both of the comfort of community and home.

A couple of minutes passed by in silence, the grandmother reading the paper and Kanoa twiddling his thumbs.  He was nervous around her; he didn’t want to mess up any part of the cooking.

“What are you afraid of?” asked the grandmother shielded by her newspaper.

Kanoa thought about this question before answering.  He didn’t know why she would ask it or rather, what she was getting at so he stayed quiet.

“Kanoa, what are you afraid of?” she asked again.

This time, he truly didn’t know what to say other than everything.  But he took a deep breath and tried, as that is what his father always told him to do when things got tough.

“I’m afraid that I can’t do anything right.  I chop and mash and cut.  Sometimes, I cry in my room.  It’s all hard.  If I mess up, I feel ashamed.  I feel that mom and dad don’t love me.  I feel that I’m a failure” he responded and began crying.

The grandmother came over to console her grandchild.  She pulled him in with a big hug and wrapped her arms around him.

“There, there” she said while wiping the tears off of his face.

She took a second so that he could stop crying and took his face in her hands.

“Kanoa. Cooking is about failure.  It’s about understanding that a lot of the time, nothing goes right.  We can only hope for the best.  We follow recipes in cooking and in life.  When it doesn’t happen the way we want, it’s ok.  It’s about finding out how to make the bad things good and the good things better.  You should know that you are my most precious gift.  Every morning, I wake up, go surfing with your dad’s board and just listen to the waves.  It’s peaceful, like nothing else matters.  I can truly be myself and nobody can stop that.  I want cooking to be like that for you.  If it’s something that you truly care about, I’m willing to teach you.  The techniques, the passion.  All you have to do is adopt it and keep it close to your heart.  That way, nobody can ever take that away from you”.

Kanoa began crying again but it was a happy cry.  He knew that although he had lost his parents, he had gained something of equal value.  He hugged the grandmother tight.  It was in that moment that felt like every bad emotion had disappeared.  It was no longer a problem knowing that he had his knowledge, his knife skills and his ability to become what could be one of the greatest chefs in mainland Hawaii.

‘DING’, went the timer.

Kanoa went to the oven and turned on the light.  A plethora of fluffy pastries topped with a golden brown shimmer were illuminating through the plated glass window.  He put on an oven mitt and removed the baking sheet from the rack.

No more than 10 minutes later, Kanoa was enjoying his favorite snack with his favorite person.  With each bite, he could taste all of the flavors; the caramelization of the sugar, rich earth like tones from the sweet potato, the crunch of the puff pastry.  It was like that sunset, a beautiful scene of hard work and determination resulting, in Kanoa’s mind, that magic he always knew was there.

Before bed, Kanoa took out his notebook that he kept on his bedside nightstand.  In it, he kept personal memoirs, thoughts and secrets.  He flipped to a new page and titled it ‘Cooking and The Grandmother’.  After underlining the title, he put the butt of the pen up to his head thinking about what to say and after having an ‘ah-ha’ moment, he put the pen down on the paper:

My name is Kanoa and I’m a cook.  I make delicious food for myself and the people I care about.  People know me and my family.  They also know my family’s history.  Cooking is my passion.  I have learned by reading and I have also learned by doing.  I know that failure is ok and that it will happen often.  I also know that I will be successful.  Cooking is in my heart.  I notice the details; how to cut vegetables, how to use timing to my benefit and the organization of being in a kitchen.  If I continue the path I’m on, my hard work will not go unnoticed.  I am strong.  I am emotional.  I am willing.

He closed his notebook and drifted off into a dream where he was surfing with his mom, dad and of course, the grandmother.

The next day, when Kanoa came home with yet again another pineapple, he took in the familiar smells of the kitchen.  And as excited as those smells were, he couldn’t wait to get back into the kitchen.

The End.

Written By: Noah Feldman, Aloha Pokē Manager

Meet The Vendors: Union Squared

There is beauty in truth…but it didn’t start out that way. 13-year-old Vincent DiBattista lied about his age on an application for a job at Rosati’s on Chicago’s northwest side. Why? Because he wanted to learn to make pizza. It worked.

In high school Vince morphed into a musician, jamming in a metal band called Euthanasia, which covered groups like Black Sabbath. However, in an all too predictable manner, Euthanasia made its mark and hit its peak early. So after graduation, Vince drifted back to the kitchen, this time applying himself at Kendall College culinary school. After landing a job at Chicago’s fine dining establishment, Ambria, Vince spent his time perfecting preparation and producing beautifully executed dishes, but realized this was not his niche. He wanted to get real.

More interested in exploring the rustic and seasonal dishes of his Italian roots, Vince took a sous position in Michael Altenberg’s Evanston kitchen at Campagnola. He became Executive Chef in 2003 and Campagnola’s following and reputation have grown alongside his own. Campagnola is a dining experience that reflects elegance in its most honest and humble form.

Vince’s devotion to getting real was pervasive. When he purchased his first home, a brick bungalow in Chicago—it became his passion project. He lovingly restored to its original warmth and purpose, and it earned him a prestigious Richard Driehaus architectural award. Even his musical inclinations evolved. Turned on by this idea of “truth”, Vince took up the banjo and the fiddle, and delved into American roots music with teacher and friend Steve Rosen. Vince took home the first place clawhammer banjo prize in Woodstock. He also placed 3rd in the Old Town School of Folk Music’s midwest fiddle championship.

Vince made a fortuitous trip to Altavilla, Sicily to reconnect with cousins, and his fire was lit. Accompanying his family to the market and cooking and eating alongside his relatives, he brought home a simple brilliance he found on their tables. It was this passion that inspired the creation of Union Pizzeria in Evanston, a raucous, cavernous bar and restaurant with a wood fire oven that pumps out daily plates and flavorful tastes. Visits to Buddy’s Pizza in Detroit with his wife Lisa and her family solidified his motivation to bring his Sicilian roots into the 21st century, and Union Squared was born. Old school modesty meets spirited ingredients in a square pan pizza as light and chewy as it is historically rich. No lie.

See Vince playing fiddle.

Written by the Union Squared Team

Meet The Vendors: Revival Cafe-Bar

The first bar I was ever behind was the bar in the corner of my grandfather’s basement in Westchester, Illinois. With my mother being the oldest of twelve kids, our family parties were never short on liveliness and motion. The basement offered my cousins and I the chance to escape the watchful eyes of ‘the adults’. There was an old hi-fi that we could tune into B96 or Q101 and get a decent signal occasionally, a children’s-sized billiards table, dusty board games, and a television that was so old you couldn’t even hook up your Nintendo.

I always found myself drawn to the other side of the room though, where an old three-seat bar was nestled into a corner, illuminated by the glow of Olympia beer signs that my mother had brought home from her time working at a liquor store during college. There wasn’t any booze but there was a hand-crank ice crusher and I could chip off chunks of freezer burn from the mini-fridge and turn out a pretty mean orange soda slushie.

In college I worked waiting tables at an Irish supper club on the west side; the type of place where everyone knew everyone else, and where entire generations of families grew up together in the same neighborhood. I was underage when I first walked in and asked about a job. The owner shook my hand, smiled and asked, “would you like to bartend?”.  I told him that I would, but it would probably have to wait a couple of years. In the meantime, I learned as much as I could through observation; asking questions about ingredients, learning to take drink orders, but most importantly learning how to interact with people, and hanging out after my shift to sneak beers and shots of Irish whiskey.

My first chance to really get behind the bar came one year on St. Patrick’s Day when our bartender fell sick. I volunteered to barback for the day, but there was no one else to jump back there and finish off the afternoon shift, so I stepped up. I remember trying to pour Irish car bombs and my hands were shaking from the nerves—not to mention we were using a 1L bottle of Bailey’s with no pour  spout. By the end of the day I had gotten a handle on my Half & Half and Black & Tan pouring techniques, and I turned the bar over to the closing bartenders in a somewhat passable condition.

Photo Credit: Jordan Balderas

Photo Credit: Jordan Balderas

Since then I’ve worked in hotels, nightclubs, high-volume cocktail lounges, fine dining restaurants, shot-&-beer spots, you name it. Along the way I’ve picked up some nifty tricks, learned about fancy ingredients and presentations. I’ve figured out what to do and more importantly what NOT to do.

The biggest takeaway from all these experiences is this: a great bar is all about the people, both the ones working beside you and the ones sitting across from you. An outstanding cocktail isn’t worth a damn if it’s presented with a piss-poor attitude.  In the words of cocktail historian and author David Wondrich “A proper drink at the right time—one mixed with care and skill and served in a true spirit of hospitality—is better than any other made thing at giving us the illusion, at least, that we’re getting what we want from life.”

Written by Michael Huebner, Revival Bar Manager

 

Meet The Vendors: Furious Spoon

Furious Spoon originated from Chef Shin Thompson’s dreams. In them, he peers back in time to 1960 Muroran, Japan, in Hokkaido, a port town where his grandfather owned a modest ramen shop. In these dreams, he worked in the store with his grandfather where they had daily conversations about noodles. He could smell the aromas and taste the flavors in striking detail. Today, Chef Shin, with the help of restaurateurs Anshul Mangal and Nick Baxter, realized these dreams and recreated his grandfather’s ramen shop in Chicago. Revival Food Hall is the third Furious Spoon location. 

Fun fact? Chef Shin's grandfather loved apples. Almost all Furious Spoon menu items & dishes (95%) have apples in them, from the soups to the sauces! Want to learn how to slurp ramen the right way? Check out this video.

Meet The Vendors: The Budlong

Hello from The Budlong!

We proudly serve Nashville Hot chicken in our space at Revival Food Hall. We are beyond thrilled to share such an exciting environment with so many great restaurants, and we truly thank the diners that come and overwhelm us with love for the Nashville Hot experience! Let’s just say we can’t stop smiling!

We wanted to share a little of our story and the Nashville Hot story…

Folklore has it the Nashville Hot style of fried chicken originated as a revenge dish. Cheating man comes home after a night of womanizing, wanting breakfast. The lady of the house served him the spiciest concoction she could come up with in her kitchen, fried chicken with lashings of the frying oil heavily spiced with cayenne. Her idea backfired as the man, Thornton Prince, LOVED the spicy bird. So began a style of fried chicken, and sometimes fish, in Nashville.

The Budlong founder, Jared Leonard, took a trip to Nashville and knew he was eating something special with the Nashville Hot chicken. He knows that Chicago has a huge appreciation for excellent and unique flavors made with love, and so began a two-year quest to perfect his recipes and techniques.

Everything is handmade and filled with a lot of love from our team… like the pickles, for example! We make our own bread and butter pickles for The Budlong. They’re slightly sweeter than your average pickle in order to give your taste buds a little soothing coolness before you dive back in for more crispy spicy goodness.

Which brings us to the local connection with our name… The Budlong Pickle Farm and Factory was located in Chicago, where the Budlong Woods neighborhood now lies, and includes part of Lincoln Square. They grew cucumbers and beets and were the biggest supplier of pickles and pickled beets in the mid 1800’s.

We brought the flavors of Nashville to Chicago, and we are proud to represent both beloved Midwestern locales in the space we share with our awesome vendor neighbors and friends in Revival Food Hall.

Next time it’s The Budlong’s turn to write a blog post, we NEED to talk about the biscuits, y’all. Game changers.

Xoxo,
The Budlong team

Meet the Vendors: DANKE

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Revival Food Hall’s lunch time traffic, Danke’s intimate 12-seat bar offers a respite. Featuring an eclectic selection from top winemakers in both new and old world regions, there isn’t a dish in the hall that we haven’t been able to pair with our wine.  Located in the heart of the hall, we feature a full-service menu of sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie plates along with our wine and beer selections. But let’s say you’ve settled into your Secret Sandwich while your friend waits in line for Aloha Poke? No problem. As you’ll soon find out, Revival is a community of vendors who are working together to create a new type of Loop dining experience.  So, when your poke-loving co-worker saddles up to our bar, I’ll suggest a Gruner Veltliner from Austria. A dry, refreshing white, this wine will complement the bold flavors in the Volcano Bowl while balancing its spice.

Pairing wines with food hall favorites has become a new challenge, and a great excuse to try so many of my fellow vendors’ dishes.  Listed below is a little cheat sheet I’ve compiled of our twelve current wines paired with twelve of my favorite dishes from the hall.  Our wine list changes regularly so check back often for new combos.

Revival Food Hall Wine Pairings:

Smoque BBQ– Here the brisket is king, but how about trying our l’Eperonniere Rose de Loire with their sleeper hit, the smoked turkey.  This dry rose has a slight earthiness and hint of pepper that will match the smoke like no other.

The Budlong– There is no question that sparkling wine will go with just about anything.  BUT, our L’Hereu Brut Cava is perfect with that Extra Hot Fried Chicken.  The fresh fruit flavors play off the heat of this spicy Nashville inspired delicacy, while fine bubbles refresh the palate and keep things light.

The Fat Shallot– Call me crazy, but the first thing I thought of when matching our ‘Barrel X’ Riesling from the Mosel region of Germany was Fat Shallot’s Reuben with pastrami and swiss classically sandwiched between marble rye. Its oozy decadence will be offset by the off dry, subtle, sweetness of this standout Riesling.

Graze Kitchenette– What better to pair with Graze’s Burger and Fries than a red that will not overpower but whose fruit and funk will add to the experience. That red is our Paonniere Gamay, a lighter bodied red that with its age has acquired much more personality than one would expect.

Farmer’s Fridge– Though any number of our wines would pair with the fresh selections from The Fridge, I’m going to give our beer menu some love.  Pairing Off Color’s Apex Predator Farmhouse Ale is a no-brainer.  From the Roast Beef Toast to the Cous Cous Salad the rich, golden flavors and notes fruit in this saison shine through.

Brown Bag Fish Co.– With Truffle Tots and Fried Fish Bites, Brown Bag was just asking to be paired with Philipe Tessier’s Cheverny.  A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Orbois, this is, by far, my favorite wine on our list.  Its unique green-fruit, tartness, and grassy notes will only add to your powerbox.

Antique Taco Chiquito– Without question, the Chicken Tacos are on point.  How about adding another crowd pleaser to the mix with Vina Real Rioja whose rich, red fruit will create a brilliant contrast to the mint and pickled jalapeño.

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate Bakery– Who cares if it’s breakfast time, don’t you want a glass of Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir with your Brie & Fig Bagel Sandwich??  I know I do.  With its elegance, grace and brightness there is no better way to start or end your day.

Union Squared Pizza– In the world of Chicago pizza, Union’s motor-city inspired pizza is a treat.  Pair a square of their Pepperoni with the out-there Mascarello Freisa for an adventure in and of itself.  This wine packs a punch with its floral aromas and tannic finish.

Aloha Poke– With high-quality fish and layers of complex flavors, what you’ll want with your Volcano Bowl is a wine that is clean, refreshing, light and citrus forward.  That is where our Gruner Veltliner comes in. An Austrian varietal, it’s what you’ll want to be drinking all afternoon and into the evening.

Furious Spoon- The Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut, a champagne with citrus notes and a clean dry finish works with the infamous Furious Ramen rather than against. No other wine on our menu could bring out the complex flavors of this delicious broth.

Danke– Last, but not least by any means, Danke’s sandwich and charcuterie menu has been selected side by side with our wines in an effort to create a dining experience that compares to that of our sister restaurant, Table Donkey and Stick, when you might have half the allotted time.  After the lunch rush, try one of our charcuterie or cheese boards.

Pair three cheeses from our daily selection such as the Big Woods Blue or the Viamala Swiss with the complex flavors of our Macon Villages Chardonnay and you won’t be disappointed.  Next, try the Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon with our meats.  Our Duck Liver Mousse (DLM) and Pork Country Pate are drastically different in texture and flavor, but either one would shine against this bright-flavored, round California Cab.

Pro-tip: During the lunch rush, grab a beer from our bar before getting in the queue. Standing on line should be fun, not work.

About the author: Tegan Brace is the General Manager of Danke, a Sandwich Shop and Wine Bar in Revival Food Hall.  In her spare time she works to expand her mastery of cheese and wine while splitting that time with her psychedelic-craft-focused art practice.

Meet the Vendors: Smoque BBQ

 
 

At least three or four times a day I get some version of the question: “How did you get into the BBQ business?”  And my stock answer is something like: “Well, I grew up in a Jewish family in Skokie, got a degree in journalism, and started my professional life as an IT consultant…so I guess it was inevitable.”

Then I’ll go on to describe that I had been barbecuing in my backyard as a hobby, and that I thought I’d gotten pretty good at it.  Then I’ll explain that while that was going on, I was getting increasingly frustrated with my IT job and that my heart really wasn’t in it.

And I’ll talk about some of my travels to the great BBQ regions—the Texas Hill Country, Kansas City, Memphis, and the Carolinas—and how I thought that these styles of BBQ were glaringly absent in Chicago’s food scene. I’ll explain that all of those things just kind of came together for me at a time when I was able to summons the courage (foolishness) to take the leap.

And all of that is true.

But it really describes how the whole thing transpired rather than how it happened. Perhaps the better answer is this:

I was working stock in a family-owned hardware store.  For those too young to remember what that is, imagine a Home Depot, but roughly a tenth of the size and about twice as likely to have what you’re looking for.  Anyway, I was stocking Aisle 4 one afternoon.  I was a conscientious, if somewhat apathetic, worker.  And, while I’m sure my mind wandered as an 18-year-old boy’s should, I was focused on my work.  But then there was this smell…

I could no longer concentrate.  Slapping price tags on garden widgets and putting them on shelves may not require a ton of brain power, but I couldn’t muster it.  I tried, but it was futile.  The smell had taken over; I had to find out what it was.  So I followed it back through Automotive…through Household Chemical…and through Small Appliance…through the stockroom and into the employee lounge.

And there they were; four of my co-workers—my friends—licking their fingers and finishing off what had been a huge pile of rib tips from a place I had never heard of called Hecky’s Barbecue in Evanston.  I had never had rib tips.  I’d probably never seen rib tips.  And I had certainly never smelled anything like rib tips.

Don’t get me wrong, I had eaten ribs before, but this was different.  This didn’t just smell like BBQ sauce.  The smokiness and meatiness were undeniable. But then there was a soft background sweetness in the air, offset by a pungency that got into your sinuses, almost too strong to endure, but too alluring to forego.  I could identify all of the elements, but it was greater than the sum of its parts.  I couldn’t get enough—perhaps, in part, because I didn’t actually get any.  By the time I had found my way to the break room, there was none left, even for a small taste.  I should have been upset with my friends for not including me in their Hecky’s run, but I was too intoxicated by the aroma to feel hurt.

As soon as I got off work that day, I went to Hecky’s, got a pile of rib tips, and stood and ate them off the hood of my car.  It was an eating experience like none I’ve had ever had. First off, it was work. You had to navigate inconveniently positioned chunks of bone and gristle to enjoy the succulent meat.  This wasn’t the kind of eating that you do while having a conversation or watching TV.  This was eating that required your full attention and engagement.  But this full-mind-and-body investment somehow made the tender morsels of juicy, smoky pork covered in rich, tangy sauce all the more satisfying.  The flavors—smoky, spicy, sweet, tangy—were big and in perfect harmony, but they were only a part of the whole experience.  It was primal; it was visceral; it was tactile; and it was delicious.

I had no idea what an impact that moment would have on my life.  I only knew that it forever changed the way I thought about food.

That’s how it happened—I got snubbed for lunch and found inspiration.  18 years, a journalism degree and an IT career later, I opened up Smoque.

Maybe the question isn’t “How did a skinny Jewish kid get into the BBQ business?” Maybe the question is, “What took so long?”

Written by Barry Sorkin, owner of Smoque BBQ.