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BadHappy Gourmet Poutine Shop Opening Today

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You know you woke up this morning and said, "Man, I am seriously craving some poutine!" OK, the likelihood of that really happening was pretty slim, but in the event you do want some poutine, today is your lucky day: BadHappy Poutine Shop is opening at noon.

For those unfamiliar with the wonder that is poutine, it's a Quebecois creation comprising french fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. But at BadHappy, opening in the original Big & Little's location at 939 N. Orleans, there will be so much more. Asheville, N.C.,, native chef/owner Tom Kern (Inn on Biltmore Estate, Ritz Carlton, Naples) has created a menu of tasty dishes that, while it may not be heart-healthy, it sure will taste good.

Kern's poutines range from the original with fromage beaucronne and St. Hubert gravy and the Pilson-Taco Curd (beef piccalilli, cilantro, onions, roasted chiles, tomatillo salsa and la lengua gravy) to the Redneck (braised pork shoulder, mac 'n' cheese, fried okra and PBR gravy) and the One Hot Asian (jalapeño curd, Viet-pork patties, headcheese, cilantro, carron, daikon and kimchi sauce). Don't worry, there's more; these are just a few examples.

But you can also get any poutine in a burrito shell or have it atop a burger. Kern said he's offering the Triple-Double Challenge to anyone who can hack it: a triple burger and double poutine. If you finish, it's free and you get a T-shirt. If you don't, well in addition to feeling the shame, you have to fork over $25.

The menu also has regular burgers, salads and Smooshs, house-made patés described as "gobs of goodness on toasted ciabatta" featuring different toppings like egg, giardiniera, house-cured salmon and pickled calamari. They also serve thick shakes and Filbert's sodas.

So when so many people are thinking about eating healthy, why BadHappy now? "BadHappy is a word I made up to describe the ‘poutine experience,'" Kern said, “anything that can make me this happy is probably bad for me.” We certainly don't see anything wrong with that.

Kern has served as exec chef of a local boutique catering company for the last two years, but has dreamed of opening a casual spot in Chicago for some time. He loves the 750-square-foot location and while it's intimate with four tables and another 8 spots at a chef's counter overlooking the kitchen, he invites people to BYO to enjoy wine or beer with the food (on Sundays, BYOV—vodka—for BadHappy's brunch). And with the nice weather, he'll add picnic tables to the parking lot on the north side of the restaurant for outdoor dining.

BadHappy is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the full menu at their website.
· BadHappy Poutine Shop [website]

[Photo: Chef/owner Tom Kern]

BadHappy Poutine Shop

939 N. Orleans St., Chicago, IL