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These Blokes & Birds Are Spot On
After Chef’s Table at Blokes & Birds I can unequivocally recommend this new English gastro-pub. Located in the heart of Wrigleyville, it boasts cuisine beyond burgers and brats and instead puts a contemporary twist on traditional English fare. In addition to top-notch cuisine, they have an excellent beverage program featuring microbrews and craft cocktails. Their craft cocktails were designed by Justin Leone, former sommelier at Alinea, and some of them are as complex as that famous restaurant’s dishes.
Owner Daily Webb opened up the warm, spacious downstairs bar for us and Chris and Sean greeted everyone with a sampling of Two Brothers Cain and Abel. Once everyone was seated we began our tasting with Devils On Horseback. These are figs stuffed with house made sausage and wrapped with bacon. How can you go wrong when a dish is stuffed with sausage and wrapped with bacon? In this case, you can’t.
Next we were served our first craft cocktail of the evening, the ‘choke-hold. This isn’t named after some violent act; it represents the Cynar in the drink, which is a liquor made from artichokes! Blended with Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon and Pama and Benedectine liqueurs, this smoky smooth drink was my personal favorite of the evening.
Our next course was the Greens & Herbs salad. I confess this was my first time having mustard greens to the point that I could taste the mustard. Since I like mustard I loved this salad! It was mixed with some shaved fennel and topped with a Pimms vinaigrette.
Our second beer was Metropolitan’s Krankshaft. This is a lighter kolsch and was a favorite at AlphaBeer IV (our next AlphaBeer is coming up June 25!). We also tried to “Mind the Bollocks”, another bourbon cocktail. This one featured Evan Williams with Peter Heering Cherry Licquore, Perfect Puree sour cherry puree, lime juice, demarera sauce, Absolut Vanil, and egg white. Deep and intense this was almost like a dessert.
Next up: fish & chips. Not just any fish & chips, though. The haddock was lightly breaded and the chips were dusted with brown sugar. The accompanying thick-cut tartar sauce had the perfect amount of zing.
No picture of the fish…it disappeared before I could snap one!
Our next course was so good I’m having cravings for it. Pork tenderloin, prepared a perfect medium, served with rumbledthumps, mango chutney and blood orange balsamic. The pork is from Compart Farms, an all-natural all-pork provider out of Minnesota that prides themselves as the “Black Angus” of pork. It was juicy and tender and flavorful and, literally, mouth watering good. The chutney and balsamic were a delicious complement. Rumbledthumps, Daily told me, are mashed potates and kale and they get the name from the noises the pots and pans made when mixing. This dish was absolutely amazing. Even more impressive was the fact that we had two lactose-intolerant guests and they substituted the side dish for them.
Our final beer of the evening was Stone Brewing Company’s Pale Ale, and our final cocktail, the B-Cup. This is a complicated beverage that really is like dessert: fresh blueberries, Pimms No. 1 Cup, Aperol, Tito’s vodka, Absolut berry acai, St. Germain, simple syrup and lemon juice combine to make a spring-fresh drink that’s sweet but not cloying.
But wait, there’s more! For dessert we had a cheese platter. Blokes & Birds had just hosted a Stone Brewing Beer & Cheese Pairing event on Monday, and we were treated to some excellent choices from Master Fromager Coleen Graham from the Great American Cheese Collection. This playland for cheese-lovers is located on the south side of Chicago and has a free warehouse tasting every Saturday at 10am. Our selections included Trillium, a goat cheese layered with ash; Blue Mont Cave aged bandaged cheddar; and Ursinus, a sheeps milk gouda. You don’t have to time your visit to coincide with cheese tasting to enjoy this type of selection, though; Daily and team work with Ms. Graham and the Great American Cheese Collection to curate their list.
For the lactose-intolerant they provided this lovely fruit dish:
The icing on the cake, so to speak, was when they brought out desserts, with candles, for our three birthday guests and the room erupted into a chorus of “Happy Birthday”.
Our Chef’s Table at Blokes & Birds was an absolutely splendid, delightful evening. One guest, who’d driven an hour and forty-five minutes to get there because of traffic, said it was “worth the drive”.
Now that’s a blimey good time!