Bucktown: The Southern
Chef Cary Taylor is a transplanted Georgia homeboy who makes good on his promise of “the dirtiest fried chicken north of the Mason-Dixon.” His buttermilk-brined Amish bird, fired up by just enough hot sauce and Old Bay seasoning (with a subtle undertow of cardamom and clove), results in a crisply crusted chicken that is both airy and earthy. Turning out bar-centric food in a sleek version of a lake house with floor-to-ceiling windows and tongue-and-groove-planked flooring, Taylor straddles Southern and Midwestern cooking with hybrids such as his Cajun send-up of Canada’s beloved poutine: layers of freshly cut potato fries drenched in house-made tasso gravy, then topped by Wisconsin cheese curds solid enough to soften up but still hold their shape. The moist pulled pork—first smoked over pecan wood, then braised—is accompanied by a squat bowl of chowchow (sweet-and-sour pickled relish equally at home in the South as the heartland) and johnnycakes. The quick breads are meant to be wrapped around the pork like a tortilla, served with or without a side of Taylor’s amiable Southern-fried storytellin’. 1840 W. North Ave.; 773/342-1840; dinner for two $60.