City Tavern opened last night with two-time James Beard semi-finalist Kendal Duque in the kitchen. Forgetting the flash of sparkle of 19th-century drinking scene or the modern minimalism of the 20th, City Tavern’s approach is rustic.
Hearing a car zip down South Michigan Avenue rather that the clip-clop of horses may be alarming in this culinary time capsule. The atmosphere is cozy with simple wooden tables and chairs below iron light fixtures on pale blue wallpaper with golden embellishments. The food is equally as comforting with a seasonal approach to classic dishes.
The menu features tavern recipes such as steak and ale pie, fried Amish chicken with acorn squash, and porter-braised beef cheeks. International influences are taken from Spain, Portugal, Germany and the West Indies - travelers from these trade routes were frequent tavern guests.
The beverage menu is devoid of moonshine and hooch, but does have an extensive rum list - pirates were travelers too. Thirty varieties of rums as well as housemade spiced rum are mixed into cocktails such as The Fish House Punch, made with cognac, black tea infused rum, peach brandy and lemon (a recipe from Philadelphia circa 1732).
Eighteen beers are on tap in addition to a five more pages of craft brews and ciders. Wine and other spirits are also available along with dessert such as pistachio crème brûlée with brandied cherries to ease you back to 2012.
1416 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-663-1278