In Search of Chicago's Hearty Appetites
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of a ‘trencherman’ is ‘a person with a hearty appetite’, and dates from the late C.16th. This title, and the restaurant’s early C.20th incarnation as a Turkish bath house, are the only ‘old’ aspects of Trenchermen the restaurant, which opened in July to (fittingly) satisfy Chicago’s many hearty eaters.
Instead, a modern menu offers unorthodox pairings like ‘pickle tots’ (of chicken breast Bresaola, red onion yogurt and scallions), and aged pekin duck breast (with rhubarb umeboshi, kim chee mortadella, fried rice and red bean paste) in a wonderfully airy space of industrial brick-walls, leather banquettes, deco tiles and warm woods, with a dramatic wraparound walnut island bar that’s proving as popular with drinkers as it is with diners.
Unconventional it may be, with its steampunk accessories and bric à brac-filled cabinets, but it all works seamlessly, put together as it was by the F&B dream team: Chefs Patrick and Mike Sheerin (Blackbird, WD-50), designer Kevin Heisner, nightlife entrepreneur Matt Eisler, and beverage director Tona Palomino.
And speaking of drinks, the cocktail list at Trenchermen is not to be overlooked – the ‘Heart of Darkness II’ with rye, yellow chartreuse, amaro and smoked bitters is as palate-pleasing as it’s inventive, but be sure to leave room for the divine candied cumin churros served with white chocolate dulce de leche. Trenchermen, indeed.