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  WINDY CITY TIMES

DISH: SAVOR SideDoor
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2015-07-01

This article shared 3477 times since Wed Jul 1, 2015
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The River North restaurant SideDoor ( 100 E. Ontario St.; sidedoorchicago.com/ ) offers a lot of treats—and I just don't mean the food.

First, patrons enter the restaurant on the Rush Street side of the historic McCormick Mansion ( hence the site's name ). And, considering it's in a mansion, the space is decidedly large, with several intriguing-looking rooms, thanks to a panoply of items ( such as a tortoise shell and paintings—the latter including classical-appearing items with very modern gadgets, etc. almost hidden in them ).

The year-old restaurant recently launched its lunch specials, which I was privileged enough to partake of at a recent media event. ( A recent perusal of the website revealed only a dinner menu, however. ) Chef Brian Kwak has come up with some impressive items that will have patrons returning.

I know several people who are not fond of Brussels sprouts, but the salad featuring the fried vegetables is quite tasty. Likewise, I really liked the springtime burrata salad, complete with gem lettuce, grilled asparagus, English peas, fava beans and Meyer lemon vinaigrette.

Who hasn't had deviled eggs? However, Kwak's version of the staple ( with mustard, cornichon, bacon and paprika ) manages to inject some life into them. Like, nachos with meat are practically everywhere these days; however, SideDoor's beef tenderloin nachos are among the best I've had in some time. And don't pass up the fried dill-pickle spears with garlic aioli—they're fun, to say the least.

We also tried a trio of SideDoor's sandwiches: The Roger ( house pastrami, caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese, horseradish mayo, griddled sourdough ); the Mansion Burger ( Angus patty, Lawry's prime rib, beef bacon, au jus aioli, blue cheese, giardiniera, all on brioche ); and The Koji ( Prime Rib, rosemary aioli, mozzarella, sauteed spinach ). It was hard for me to decide on a favorite. ( Seriously—I would try any of these on a return visit. ) Lastly, the blackened grouper ( with roasted corn puree ) rounded out one of the most tasteful and tasty outings I've recently had.

There are desserts as well, if you have room. Every sticky toffee pudding is going to fall short of the one I had at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in Las Vegas, but SideDoor's comes close. Lastly, there's the "Not Your Father's Root Beer" Float, which is 10-percent alcohol. Trust me on that.

However, from a culinary perspective, SideDoor offers a lot more, especially with the dinner menu. There are meat boards ( with items such as duck confit and pork belly ), other sides like baked mac 'n' cheese and more desserts, such as creme brulee, C.C. Brown's Hot Fudge Sundae and cheesecake.

Also, don't even think about skipping the drinks. SideDoor prides itself on its craft-beer selection, and it has a ( literally ) heady mix of cocktails, such as the Buena Vida ( Dos Maderas rum, passion fruit, lime, three pepper syrup and ancho chili ) and the Show & Tell ( the bartender's choice for the week ).

Lastly, if possible, try to get a tour of the mansion. There are multiple rooms—and a lot of history. SideDoor certainly has a lot to offer.


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