Wine bottles, intimate tufted banquette seating and an open floor plan: these details make you feel like you’re at a dinner party in a chef’s home. But you're really in Chicago’s newest River North restaurant: Bottlefork.
Chef Kevin Hickey is at the helm of the New American concept restaurant that offers locally sourced and globally inspired cuisine and cocktails. Unlike other restaurants where the food and beverage programs are treated separately, at Bottlefork, both aspects play an equal role in creating the perfect culinary marriage.
The open floor plan at Bottlefork makes the atmosphere cozy and warm — Photo courtesy of Bottlefork / Rockit Ranch Productions
The menu features modern interpretations of both familiar and new American dishes such as gourmet grilled cheeses and “tots,” which feature pimento cheese drizzle.
Since this food spot wants to showcase seasonal Midwestern at its best, initial local collaborations include a proprietary beer created with Begyle Brewing, featuring an array of spices and root vegetables. Another collaboration netted a proprietary brandy with Rhine Hall and Cherry Old Fashion with Seedling Farms. House-made liqueurs and bitters, as well as herbs and vegetables, are regularly sourced from Chef Hickey’s micro-farm in Bridgeport, while cheeses, meats and more are sourced from Midwest suppliers.
Trio of grilled cheeses only offered on the late-night menu on Friday and Saturday from midnight to 2 a.m. — Photo courtesy of Bottlefork / Rockit Ranch Productions
Bottlefork is popular among the after-work crowd looking to unwind and grab a cocktail with friends and colleagues. Guided by the educated staff, guests are encouraged to navigate through the unique spirits menu, which features a carefully curated list of specialty cocktails and kegged wines. The perfectly sized food menu allows for small plate noshes to entrée-sized feasts.
Manning the bar is Brandon Phillips as head barkeep. Brandon, formerly of the Drawing Room, is responsible for all of the cocktails in the Gentlemen’s “Cut” and Originals sections of the beverage menu. Among his creations is Big Salty Tears (Lustau Palo Cortado & East India Solera Sherries + Rittenhouse Rye + lemon + maple + orange flower water + an egg).
Would you pay $35 for a cocktail? You might for the Bill Brasky. (There is a limit to only one per customer.) The cocktail features Journeyman Rye + Hudson New York Corn Moonshine+ Buffalo Trace Bourbon + Bank Note 5 Year Blended Scotch + Hammer & Tongs Sac’ Resine Vermouth + Regan’s Orange Bitters + The After Shave Brasky Used to Woo Your Wife.
The Bill Brasky cocktail features a special mix — Photo courtesy of Bottlefork / Rockit Ranch Productions
Oh, did we mention the vintage nudie card frozen in a huge block of ice in the center of this cocktail, which is served in a glass about the size of your head? Consider yourself warned.
Full dinners and late-night cocktailing starting at 10 p.m., and lunch and brunch will begin service at the end of May. An outdoor patio with 18 coveted spots and enclosed by a flower and functional herb garden will open in May, depending on the weather.
River North has no shortage of great restaurants, but Bottlefork’s easy atmosphere and refreshing food and drink menu make this one of the best new restaurants the neighborhood has seen in a long time.