"I just want to make the best quality food that I possibly can and if that's what it takes, that's what I'm gonna do," said Gregory Ellis, the Chef of 2 Sparrows.
From the breakfast side of the menu, shrimp and grits as good as anything from the low country that inspired them.. but Ellis uses midwestern grits, from Three Sisters' Garden in Kankakee. He tops them with a homemade tasso gravy, which includes cured and smoked ham.. then tops it with some grilled Gulf shrimp and scallions.
"I like to think it's comfort food. It's a southern thing that I learned when I would visit family down south and they eat shrimp and grits for breakfast," Ellis said.
Quiche is another homemade breakfast item.. mile-high slices make deep dish pizza look scrawny. Flavors rotate; on this day, mushrooms and cheese are the star. At lunch, Ellis takes liberties with sandwiches, like a BLT featuring a generous filet of grilled salmon or a Cuban sandwich, containing pork belly and shredded pork, rather than the usual slice of ham; and whole grain mustard rather than the usual yellow.
"There's a lot of places that have Cubans in the city so I figured you have got to change up the flavors a little bit and make it my own," said Ellis.
He also makes the corned beef his own, mainly by making it all himself, rather than purchasing it from a deli supplier. He also bumps up the flavor profile by using gruyere cheese, a homemade 1000 Island dressing and house-made pickles, stacking it all on grilled rye bread that's brushed with beer during baking, over at Bleeding Heart Bakery in Ukrainian Village.
"That is definitely one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast and for lunch - corned beef sandwiches or corned beef hash for breakfast Something we make here in house: corn it, braise it," said Ellis.
The menu here at 2 Sparrows will change occasionally, but they're never going to mess with this corned beef; when you think about, something as simple as this sandwich, yet, house-made ketchup for the house-made tater tots, house-made pickles, house-made corned beef you can't mess with something so delicious.
The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but they're open every day until 3 p.m.
2 Sparrows 553 W. Diversey Pkwy