Nearly every little ethnic joint in town will let you bring in a bottle of wine or some beer since they haven't purchased a liquor license. But usually, the food at BYOBs isn't that ambitious.
At one new restaurant in Ukrainian Village, the chef has worked in some of the best kitchens in the country and is now turning out food that is both affordable and delicious. Ruxbin - a prototypical neighborhood restaurant in Ukrainian Village - the food goes well beyond expectations.
"Our vision with this restaurant is we wanted to be BYOB because given the economy, we wanted to make a place that was an affordable experience," said Ed Kim, the Chef and co-owner of Ruxbin.
It stays that way, thanks to a small corkage fee of $5 per table. All the better to enjoy a calamari unlike any other in town: Korean chili joins peanuts and baby potatoes and along with the calamari, is crowned with cucumbers, radish sprouts and dried seaweed. Fennel and squash mingle together in a salad along with crunchy walnuts and bacon; the entire bowl is lightly dressed in a balsamic-mustard vinaigrette.
Pan-roasted chicken goes Southern, but with a twist: first, a savory batter of cumin and cheddar waffles is heated in the iron. Then, a saute pan of dark meat chicken that's been cooked in its own fat is shredded and then heated up with fresh thyme. Meantime, apple compote is heated and laced with walnuts. To assemble, the shredded chicken is placed on the split-open waffle, the sliced breast goes next door, and the waffle is topped by the apple compote. A slaw of cabbage, peppery arugula, red onions and black sesame gives the dish some crisp contrast, while a gravy of pan drippings and citrus add subtle richness. It fits in perfectly with Kim's philosophy.
"Something that could be a neighborhood spot that provides good food and at the same time something that's affordable," Kim said.
Kim's other standout is a pan-roasted trout dish, set above a crunchy base of bulgur wheat tabbouleh, plus sauteed dates and asparagus. Simple yet delicious. Same goes for his dessert options - just two on the menu - including a hearty orange-and-chocolate bread pudding, topped with a bit of seasonal fruit and creamy creme anglaise. Nearly all of Kim's personal and professional influences shine here - from Korea to Mexico.
"As an American, we grow up and we eat so many different types of food, and it's like, why not include your influences in there," said Kim.
Some people will scoff at the five-dollar per table corkage, but remember, the restaurant is providing proper stemware and has to wash it, after all.
851 N. Ashland Ave.