Acadia bar offers affordable menu

April 20, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"Having the dining room and the private dining room for our higher-end stuff, tasting menus and things like that that people want to celebrate and have that kind of experience, but then the bar is really an area where people can come in and from the neighborhood or after work and just have a cocktail, something more casual," said Chef and Owner Ryan McCaskey.

Nothing says casual like a burger, but McCaskey's is pure genius. He combines fatty wagyu, sturdy brisket and ground chuck, to create a mouthwatering masterpiece. Add a layer of bacon jam, some tart, homemade pickles and top it off with gruyere cheese and a creamy mornay for some serious flavor. Just a few Lincoln Log-like fries accompany it, so you don't fill up on starch. Desserts are also simple, yet updated, like a vanilla bean laced root beer float that blows away whatever you had as a kid. Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are popular in Chicago, but again, McCaskey does wonders with pork belly.

"So there's actually some hoisin and all of the spices and flavors that go into my favorite soup. We create a glaze and grill it over wood and glaze it as it's grilling," he said.

The crunchy carrot-daikon salad, as well as jalapenos and fresh cilantro mirror other classic versions. There's also a generous bowl of steamed mussels, paired with toast decorated in a polka dot-mosaic of garlicky aioli; also, a standard lobster roll, just like something you'd see on the Eastern shore.

"I really wanted to do something that was traditional, that you would see up and down the coast of Maine for pretty cheap out there," said McCaskey.

Now when you dine at Acadia, in the dining room, you can have a meal that runs easily about $100 a person, but up in the bar you can have great food for less than 20 bucks, and the food comes from the same exact kitchen.

The other nice thing about dining in the bar, reservations are not required.

1639 S. Wabash

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