Excellent food a staple at Logan Square cocktail lounge

March 8, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
Not all cocktail lounges are created equally.

At one new spot in Logan Square, the food is taken as seriously as the drinks. That's partially due to the fact the owner worked at Charlie Trotter's for more than a decade.

The irony isn't lost on everyone. Logan Square's Billy Sunday - named for the early 20th century preacher and prohibition advocate - is a study in contrasts.

"The whole idea of getting alcohol off the streets and we were so focused on cocktailing and making it right that those two things just came together naturally," said owner Matthias Merges.

Each drink is meticulously sourced. Show an interest in rum? The bartender will probably show you some of the rare bottles acquired at auction. Prefer a negroni or a daiquiri? Each element is carefully thought out.

"We make our own bitters, we make our tonics; the methods that we use are very similar, so we wanted to get back to the craft of cocktailing," Merges said.

Then there is the food. A compact menu with only a few items, but each one is unique.

Portuguese sardines are dressed with capers, pickles and egg whites, a smattering of potato chips and the sardines' own flash-fried spines providing extra crunch. Several jars are available, like this silky-salty smoked trout version with excellent peasant bread from La Fournette Bakery in Old Town.

There's always a pot pie on the menu; this time of year, it's braised rabbit, sealed with a comforting cap of buttermilk biscuits. There are only two dessert options, including a creamy-rich banana pudding topped with whipped honeycomb and honey powder.

"We wanted to be inspired by Sunday suppers at your grandmother's house or Sunday picnics back in the 30's and 40's where we have all these different homemade, prepared items that are really delicious and comforting," he said.

Now some people find Sunday comfort in Chinese food. Others prefer an Italian meal with a Sunday gravy. Me, I'm happy with a rabbit pot pie and a daiquiri with two kinds of rum, passion fruit syrup and pineapple bitters, but of course the nice thing about Billy Sunday is you can have this food and drink seven days a week.

The small space fills up quickly on the weekends but weekdays tend to be easier to find a seat. They open at 5 p.m. every day and stay open until 2 a.m.

Billy Sunday
3143 W. Logan Blvd.
(773) 661-2485