While on my way for a new pair of shoes at the finest shoe store in Chicago (Alamo) up in Andersonville, I stumbled on a new place, open only a couple of weeks.
Urban Epicure describes itself as "everyday gourmet." They seem to be trying to do it all in a very nice but smallish space. There is a prepared food area, an olive station, fresh soups and pozole, a cooking class corner, frozen specialties made in-house, and 2 or 3 very short grocery aisles of oils, jams, vinegars and the like. For example, their freezer offered marinara sauce and 3 varieties of bolognese sauce (I think one each of lamb, pork, and beef, even though I thought there was just one true "bolognese.") They could probably stand to beef up their selections of oils and vinegars, but again, their shelf space is quite limited, and I was told that for now they're relying on the limited suggestions of a purveyor. Bread is from Red Hen.
The store has a full-time chef and sous chef, the former coming from some obviously inferior New York establishment, and the latter from stints at Topolobambo and Fortunato. Their experience is reflected not only by the Italo-Mex flavors of the tak-out menu, but also by its seasonality. To give a small sample: "Early November risotto cakes" in striking contrast to the late November variety I prefer, Salmon Charmoul (in a roasted red pepper and cumin sauce), couscous, vegetable lasagna, spaghetti fennel three ways, roasted parsnips carrots and brussels sprouts, steak con pico de gallo, four lovely salads including a nicoise, and several pretentiously or humourously named (you decide) sandwiches.
The space is a beautifully designed conversion of an old printer's loft. The architect brilliantly saved and highlighted a wooden barrel roof that embraces everything warmly. Service was great.
They're offering 3 different take-out menus for Thanksgiving, a traditional American, a Near East (tandoori rubbed turkey, chickpea salad . . .), and a Regional Mexican (coriander cured turkey, pozole with pumpkin, potatoes and poblanos, etc.) Each is about $25 a head.
From my one visit, I was impressed.
1512 W. Berwyn
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