Chef Charlie McKenna (Lillie's Q) continues his mission of showcasing southern American cooking in Chicago with his latest restaurant, Dixie, which opens today in the former Takashi space. Coinciding with the restaurant's opening, McKenna is formally launching his restaurant group, Southern Revival Hospitality. Chef Tony Quartaro left Formento's to join the group as director of culinary. McKenna also opens a companion bar, 1952 1/2, which focuses on bourbon and julep drinks.
McKenna is taking "revival" seriously, as he aims to redefine what Midwesterners think of southern cooking with modern takes on classics. For example, Dixie's country ham is served with grilled peaches, arugula and amped up with a touch of France with the addition of fromage blanc. Carrots come with a boiled peanut hummus, cilantro and chicory coffee. Don't worry, there are biscuits on the menu, as Dixie's version is served with pepper jam.
The bar will serve snacks including hush puppies and po boys, but it won't just be a place to hang out during the Kentucky Derby. A seasonal cocktail menu includes a prescription julep (bourbon, tawny port, gomme syrup, Milanese Fernet, Amaro) and an old fashioned (bonded bourbon, gomme syrup and Sasparilla bitters).
Chicago firm blocHaus designed the 3,600-square-foot restaurant, which takes up two floors and seats 64. The goal is to transport diners back to the South. There's an open chef's kitchen on the first floor that features marble and French-inspired golden lattice details and solid brass lion's head pulls. Check out the photos and menu below.
Dixie & 1952 1/2, 1952 N. Damen Ave., (773) 688-4466, Dixie's open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday; 1952 1/2's open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.