If the concept of two names behind one of Chicago's most elite indie-rock venues opening up their own high-end restaurant is strange to you, it's probably even more bewildering that they'd make it a fully-functioning inn as well. Yet that's exactly the plan from the Empty Bottle
's Bruce Finkelman and Pete Toalson, who have established a corner inn just a ways up the street from Logan Square
The long bar is probably the most notable aspect of the interior – its tall shelves are stocked with a massive variety of liquors (52 different kinds of bourbon are available, and 26 different whiskeys, including delicacies like Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve). The house Manhattan and Old Fashioned run for $8 apiece, as do the rest of their cocktails. There is also a plentiful wine and craft beer selection to choose from – or just order a two-dollar PBR if old habits die hard.
Bar snacks include the somewhat sinful brandade with duck fat-fried potato chips ($6), or chickpea fries with spicy harissa ketchup ($4). Sandwich lovers can hunker down with the wild boar sloppy joe with crispy sage, onion and pickled jalapeno ($11), or a Kobe burger with English cheddar, bacon, beef fat fries and brioche ($9).
Plates like the sunnyside-up duck egg, with beef tongue hash and black truffle vinaigrette ($9) or the house-made charcuterie with country rabbit pate, potted duck rillettes, and foie-chicken liver mousse ($13) are not an entire meal in of themselves, but allow you to sample some pretty daring flavors before you commit to the full meal (sweetbreads or bone marrow, anyone?). If you want to take the full dive, entrees like roasted cauliflower or butter-roasted catfish range from $15-22 a plate.
If the gradual sampling of snacks, plates, and entrees doesn't fill you up, a sprinkling of desserts are available. For $5, you can cap the night off with a creme brulee complete with cookies and homemade sour plum jam (in its own cute mason jar). Of course, whiskey makes a fine dessert too ...
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Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge
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