While yesterday's news of Jewish deli Ashkenaz closing came as a surprise, Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed, a new kosher barbecue joint, is targeting to open around Dec. 1. The restaurant, being opened by real estate investor Jeff Aeder, pays homage to the memory of his favorite uncle, Milt Aeder.
A love for barbecue and a desire to give back to the community fueled Aeder's drive to open Milt's. General manager Dan Weiss said they're currently narrowing their search for a chef and should have someone nailed down in the next week or so. And since the restaurant will be cRc (Chicago Rabbinical Council) certified, they'll have a mashgiach on site at all times to ensure the kosher quality of the food. And in a kosher barbecue joint, that means—you guessed it—no pork.
The new casual 60-seat spot will be open for lunch, dinner and late night, but not on the Jewish sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday—at least not regularly or to the general public. About once a month, they'll open for pre-paid shabbos dinners with wine.
The restaurant, which will have an in-house smoker, will feature a wide variety of dishes like smoked and barbecued short ribs, pulled barbecue chicken, brisket, barbecued roasted chicken, barbecue salmon, a burger of the week, beef brisket chili, different cole slaw, beans and even some vegetarian options like a pulled barbecue seitan sandwich. Milt's will have a slider sampler with pulled barbecue chicken, brisket and short rib; a few different types of wings; fried pickles; smoked and braised sausage and a kids menu.
In addition to not serving pork, Milt's also won't be able to serve mac and cheese, due to the kosher rule of not serving meat and dairy from the same kitchen. And while traditional kosher restaurants tend to be pricier because of the quality of the product, Milt's is a neighborhood barbecue joint that happens to have high-quality kosher meat, but at lower affordable prices.
Weiss explained that in addition to two- and four-tops, the restaurant will also have a communal table in the center of the room because they want it to be a meeting place for the community, whether that's to come together simply to break bread or have deeper discussions. This is where the name—Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed—makes more sense. Weiss said the name was influenced by 12th century Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides' book, Guide for the Perplexed. They'll have deep, difficult and lighthearted questions placed around the restaurant to spark discussion. "Jeff wants your mind to get nourished as well as your body," he said. "He wants it to be an experience."
Speaking of gathering and community, a focus of Milt's is to give back. Aeder is opening Milt's as a philanthropic endeavor and 100 percent of the profits will go back to charities, Weiss said. "[Aeder] is giving back to the Lakeview community where he lives and to the Jewish community." They're still firming up the initial recipient list, but Weiss said the beneficiary will change each month.
Milt's won't just be a restaurant, but also a bar that will stay open late during the week and later on weekends. It'll have a full bar with a good selection of scotch and bourbon as well as wine and beer that go with barbecue. "At night we'll count on the Lakeview bar business to help us donate to charities," Weiss said. Good thinking.
· Ashkenaz Deli to Close, Da Lobsta Coming In [~EChi~]
· Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed [Facebook]