by Jennifer Olvera
Chaise Lounge has officially become The Southern, a Chicago drinking den where comfort food gets a sometimes-irreverent spin. The cocktails? Classic. The tunes? Southern rock. As for the food, chef Cary Taylor kicks off the edited menu with aged cheddar cheese straws with truffle mayo, hush puppies with smoked trout and Johnny cakes with Gunthorp Farm pork and chow chow.
Dishes—from fried green tomatoes with Stickney Farm chèvre and caper relish to a burger with Dietzler beef, smoked bacon and remoulade—utilize products from local farms when possible. And if the rosemary-accented duck Orleans with garlic sausage fails to fill you up, you’ll find sides like spicy cheese grits, truffled fingerlings and collard greens.
Desserts are simple and sinful, from cream cheese frosting-topped carrot cake with toasted pistachios and rum raisins to Mississippi mud pie riddled with Georgia peanuts.
Sunday brunch tows a cozy-cool line, too, with bananas Foster French toast and beignets. Bacon-chocolate pancakes with local maple syrup, shrimp and grits with red hots and avocado and pureed black beans tucked into “morning tacos” address the savory side of things. There’s even the “Ode to Waffle House,” a far-cry from any original. Its hand-cut fries are blanketed with venison chili, roasted tomatoes, red beans and cheese.