CHICAGO - You might think of caviar as something reserved only for high-rollers or Russian oligarchs, but our Hungry Hound said a new restaurant in Humboldt Park is trying to change that perception.
It's part of a new program featuring domestic, rather than imported fish, and it's part of a menu offering a lot more than just fish eggs.
The menu at the brand new Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar in Humboldt Park reflects the staff's own heritage.
"It's a bunch of different ethnicities, so we've got Polish, Czech, Korean, Italian but we try to bring everybody's dishes to light," said Chef Guy W. Meikle.
That might include pierogies, but these are stuffed with cottage cheese, potatoes and chives, then once cooked, served over a purplish puree of beets, creme fraiche and sauerkraut. Nodding to his own Czech heritage, the chef offers a grilled-and-roasted half a duck with the usual accompaniments.
"I always remember the roast pork and roast pork dinners that we used to have; sauerkraut and dumplings and all the fixings so I knew that that would be one of the dishes that I wanted to bring here to the restaurant," he said.
There's also a significant caviar program at the bar.
"It's always been a part of people's menus, but we wanted to strip the fussiness or pretension out of it and just have it be something that was homey and part of the menu just like an oyster bar would be," Meikle said.
Half is wild American - that means fish roe from trout, salmon, bowfin, hackleback and spoonbill - the other half are from around the world, like traditional Siberian sturgeon. You'll also find sturgeon gently smoked, along with housemade cured salmon, or gravlax, and to go with your smoked fish or caviar, traditional dark bread, pickles, salted butter and crispy potato chips. The range of potential flavors from such small eggs is astonishing.
"Some that are more wild have that funky, muddy texture and flavor to them that's really delicious and kind of unctuous, and some are really refined and buttery and have that kind of nutty, almond or hazelnut flavor to it," he said.
They've always got about 14 different types of roe or caviar here at Heritage to try, and they also have two types of infused vodka to go with it: one of them being an infused beet with tarragon. As they say in the homeland: nazdarovie.
In this extra course, Steve talks about some of the traditional Eastern European desserts the restaurant makes each day, like kolachke and paczki.
Extra course: Traditional Eastern European desserts at Heritage Restaurant
Heritage Restaurant and Caviar Bar
2700 W Chicago Ave.