Kevin Hickey is not shy in the kitchen. After spending most of his career with the Four Seasons, working in kitchens all over the world before coming home several years ago, the Bridgeport native is resurrecting a space in River North, calling it Bottlefork, where he can cook what he wants to.
"Taking things that, regardless of what it is, whether it's something very simple, basic and rustic or if it's very elegant and specific, it still gets the same attention to presentation," said Hickey.
Instead of spiral ham, how about cranking out thin slices of prosciutto or Spanish Iberico ham, making it part of a luxurious charcuterie plate; same goes for a vast cheese selection. Want eggs? Hickey wraps tiny, hard-boiled quail's eggs in Wisconsin bratwurst, rolls them in eggs and panko breadcrumbs, then fries 'em and serves three orbs with lemon mustard. And then there's Chicago's best version of rabbit: the typically lean leg is buttermilk brined, marinated and braised, but that's not all.
"Said oh, we'll just wrap it in caul fat, then we'll marinate the caul fat in the marinade as well so that it breaks down, and it comes out very much like fried chicken," he said.
There are Chicago nods everywhere on the menu, like Hickey's love letter to Greektown, in the form of a massive salad draped with fried cheese.
"There's so many things in Greektown that I love. And I tend to always get a Greek salad and I always get saganaki and I always get hummus and baba gannoush and pita and I wanted something that just kind of tied it all together, that flavor profile that I love so much," he said.
Now seats have been at a premium here at Bottlefork, especially on the weekends, so reservations are suggested. I would recommend you try to sit up here, at the kitchen bar, facing the kitchen, more interactive, and you can get a better appreciation for the ingredients and techniques they're using.
441 N. Clark St.