Corn-infused dishes at Ovie Bar & Grill

August 14, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Our Hungry Hound loves both ingredients in almost anything, so he's featuring both of them all week long, beginning with corn.

The old way of measuring a crop's success was if they were, "knee-high by the Fourth of July." And guess what, this season's rain has led to an abundance of August corn, and we found one restaurant, favored by train commuters, where corn shows up all over the menu.

If you take the train, and spend any time at the Oglivie Transportation Center, you may have stumbled across Ovie Bar & Grill. Packed during lunch, not so much at dinner, this week, you'll see corn everywhere on the menu.

"I like using it all kinds of ways. We use it on a bruschetta, I put it in a polenta fry, we make a soup out of it, we use it as just regular corn," said Ovie's chef, Mark Chmielewski.

For their corn soup, they begin by shucking and slicing off the kernels, then grilling the cob.

"We grill the cobs off and then put them in the stock and it gives a vegetarian stock awesome flavor," he said.

Corn kernels are sautéed with jalapenos and onions; then the vegetarian stock is added, along with heavy cream. The entire mixture is blended until smooth, strained again, and then ladled into a bowl. A crab salad-topped piece of toast serves as a garnish, while the soup is flecked with herb oil.

On a plate of seared diver scallops, a long piece of toast is turned into bruschetta thanks to a salsa of vegetables, avocado and barely-cooked corn kernels.

"I like cooking it, it gives it a little more sweetness; it doesn't have the chewiness, it's a little more tender," said Chmielewski.

And as corny as polenta already is, Chmielewski adds even more corn to it, along with finely-chopped chives. The mixture is formed into a thin layer and chilled, so it can be cut into French fries, dredged in panko breadcrumbs and fried; served with an entrée of seared tuna loin. He says all of his corn dishes should be on the menu for at least a few more weeks.

"We'll run it right into September," he said.

Ovie also has a grab-and-go section up front for commuters; the restaurant, incidentally, is located on the east entrance of Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Ovie Bar & Grill
120 N. Canal St.
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