After a brief closure for interior enhancements, AMK Kitchen Bar (1954 W. Armitage Ave.) has re-opened with more innovative American fare and comfort food favorites. The mastermind behind the original menu, Chef Barney Smith, has collaborated with Phil Rubino (formerly of Dusek’s Board and Beer) to expand and enhance the restaurant’s already well-known (and well-loved) menu.
The interior enhancements include new HD TV’s (silent, luckily) broadcasting events and games from Chicago’s favorite teams. The décor includes updated work from graffiti artist The Lie, and a variety of kitschy bits of Americana.
AMK Kitchen Bar has a superior cocktail program with a definite focus on whiskey. The restaurant offers more than 60 whiskeys, a full whiskey-inspired cocktail list, along with more than 30 craft beers, with a focus on local breweries. As for the food menu, the combination of Chef Barney Smith and Phil Rubino has created a unique and elevated combination of comfort foods. According to owner Steven Tsonis:
“We’re proud to be part of a vibrant area like Bucktown. We’ve learned a lot in the two years since our opening, not the least being that our love of whiskey and innovative American comfort food fit the neighborhood. We’ve brought back the substance and spirit of our original menu, and have made a few changes that we think our loyal customers will appreciate.”
On a recent visit, a friend and I were able to sample a number of AMK Kitchen Bar’s most iconic items:
- Baked Pimento Dip – Hook’s Three-year Cheddar, Roasted Red Pepper and Ritz Crackers. I am a Southerner and cannot pass up good pimento cheese. This was superior! And serving it hot is a genius idea. For the gluten-conscious among you, they also serve this with celery sticks.
- Fried Pickles – a super crunchy version of this comfort food favorite. Come on . . . fried pickles! How can you go wrong?
- Wild Boar Meatloaf – Molasses glaze, sautéed green beans and wrapped in bacon. Wild boar is lean, so the addition of bacon helps to keep the tasty recipe from being too dry. They serve it with a wonderful sauce made from sautéed onions on the side.
- Fried Chicken – even better than the original! So fluffy and delicious, this dish requires no sauce – but if you’ve gotta have Chef Barney’s chili-honey sauce, just ask. The portion size is gigantic!
Other new items include the following, which make me want to head back for another visit soon:
- Bookbinder Mussels (inspired by the soup that made the Drake Hotel’s Cape Cod Room famous) – P.E.I. mussels, roasted tomato, Alagash white broth, Pickled Chilis, Warm Baguette
- Raspberry Beet Salad – Arugula, Fromage Blanc, Pistachio, six-year balsamic
- AMK Chopped Salad – Bacon, Egg, Chicken, Hook’s Three-year Cheddar, Avocado, Onion, Tomato, Black Beans, Hard Cooked Egg, Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
- Drunken Gem Salad – Bibb lettuce, Picked Herbs, Drunken Goat Cheese (held in cabernet), Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Kale Caesar – Tuscan kale, Parmesan, Pumpernickel Crouton, Radish
- Fried Brussels – Red Cabbage, Jalapeno, Scallions, Bacon, Crispy Shallots, Bacon Vinaigrette
- Salmon Poke – Pineapple, Fresno Chili, Sesame/Ginger Vinaigrette, Crispy Wonton
- Slow Roasted Salmon – Dijon Herb Crust, Warm crème fraiche potato salad
- Nashville Hot Chicken Biscuit – Cheddar & Scallion Biscuit, Homemade B & B pickles w/fries
- PBLT – Crispy Pork Belly, Arugula, Heirloom Tomato, Charred Onion Aioli, Toasted Sourdough
AMK Kitchen Bar is located at 1954 W. Armitage Ave, on the corner of Armitage and Damen. You can get more information on their website or by calling (773) 276-4400. Follow their social media conversations on Facebook and Instagram.