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Hearty eating

I hit a few new places out and about in Chicago last week. My favourite was Trenchermen which had only been opened a few days when we got there on Wednesday night. We had just walked out of the haughty Violet Hour, after we had got blind sided by a bum-fluffed assistant manager who roundly accused us of something we didn’t do. He handled the situation incredibly badly, we told him so, and we walked out without even sipping a drink.

Trenchermen mind you gave us a very warm welcome and we recognised one of the bartenders as an old colleague’s brother. That set the scene for some imaginative drinks (I really don’t like gin but the Green Hornet was superb) and even better food (the sea trout was wonderful).

Trenchermen, named for someone that eats heartily and often to excess, occupies a space that was once a Turkish bathhouse. It’s got authentic white glazed brick, similar to tube station tile, and a terra cotta exterior.

The restaurant occupies a large space in Wicker Park and in the kitchen are brothers Mike and Pat Sheerin, both with previous at many acclaimed Chicago eateries. The restaurant is split in half with table dining on one side and an impressive bar surrounded by 40-odd bar stalls on the other.

Four of us sat at the bar, ate what I would call casual fine dining food, and drunk happily and I would highly recommend it.

Earlier we had a couple of beers at Big Star, ate great tacos and drunk Mexican beer complete with hot chilli sauce and salt around the top of your glass. Think a beer monster’s bloody mary.

We ended our night in the early hours drinking red wine and eating again, I was in America after all,
with the owner of Bluebird. Bluebird is a beer place really, an interesting concept from a bloke who brought the first ever wine bar to Chicago.

Chicago’s bar and restaurant scene was struggling two years ago but I noticed a real resurgence last week, which was great to witness.

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