Ed. note: Welcome another new contributor to our site, Terence Sean Davis, who will offer us dispatches from the worlds of art, life and food in Chicago.
Terence is a Chicago native and a devoted North sider who’s evolution has been a byproduct from his interactions with graffiti, rap and an variety of different cultures and their native cuisines, each spurring a certain live curiosity.
An alum of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Terence studied Radio/Televsion with a minor in Black America Studies. Along with his writing, Terence also raps under the moniker DotFresh.
This grassroots food critic and explorer of Chicago hidden jewels and restaurants gives a clears insight into Chicago’s nightlife and where you should be having dinner. Below is Terence’s take on “The Chop Shop” in Wicker Park and why you should chill out on fast food and keep it more gourmet. And speaking of “Gourmet,” check out Terence’s “GourmetTape,” available for download.
I’ve been to some interesting restaurants in Chicago, but “The Chop Shop” had a different type of finesse going for it
The initial feel of entering the restaurant, which sits just off the heart of Wicker Park and its North Ave./Damen/Milwaukee Ave. confluence, makes you first realize that you are in a deli, one which operates from 10am to 11am, but soon into its day it morphs into a bar-restaurant that allows it to operate deep into the night and helps it attract a variety of customers from around the city from people who just want a good cut of meat to those who want an easy place to kick it on the weekend.
It just so happened that I was introduced to this spot while attending a friend’s birthday gathering, which provided a perfect opportunity to enjoy the scenery and the menu.
The night began as any other, with our server, Michelle, greeting us with some premeditated recommendations for drinks and starters. I stuck to my craft brews as my group ordered from the signature cocktail list, which seemed to be the right way to go. Our drinks took time to make their way to our table, but as Michelle reassured us, “we go for execution, not speed.” And… yeah, that definitely turned out to be true.
Shortly after our starters were delivered. A few delicacies from the Shop’s charcuterie were laid out in front of us by the man who cut it himself. The lamb pâté, duck rillettes and proscuitto — as well as the bleu and gouda — can ensure a return date for lunch with the office. Soon in front of us were our main courses, the pleasure of the Shop’s pork chop was all mine to indulge. There was no denying the “thirst” that began to set inside me as I hovered over this cut bathed in parsnip puree and bourbon quince butter.
My good friend had the night’s special NY strip. To put it simple, there was no sharing during this course, or much talking either. Also with an area devoted to live performances and entertainment, the Shop featured a live band that played soft tunes as I dug into the the tender, mouth-watering pork chop.
This interesting conflation of a bar, restaurant and deli has two floors to suit its needs, which is pretty impressive once you get in, from the street one could only assume its a deli, once you get in you get the chance to really be surprised. That was a positive but I’m big on customer service as well and the waiters seemed to rush finished plates off our table in efforts to get us to move around…that was pretty wack, but overall I have to say will continue to keep patronizing “The Chop Shop,” its a spot with good atmosphere, smiles and it stands as another drawing point of my favorite millennial-friendly neighborhood in Chicago.
Music: After sets for Lollapalooza spread the wealth around
Let’s face it, Grant Park stands to be a random, drug-induced mess for the three days Lollapalooza will occupy it later this summer… so there’s no reason to withhold the madness from the rest of the fair city of Chicago, right?
Not at all, and each year the plans to spread the love to dozens of other performance spots during the city’s busiest weekend for music brings about surprises from those scheduled for Lolla and otherwise, keeping things abuzz with surprises and other things that may hold more impact than when you’re standing a football field away trying to decipher if Childish Gambino is playing the third song from his first record or the first song from his upcoming third record.
If that doesn’t sound too appealing, or if you’re salty that you couldn’t get a 3-day pass before they sold out, check out the entire list of after sets that will take place that week here, provided by Chicago’s RedEye. Below are WARR-approved acts with the ones performing at Lolla highlighted — you may miss out on Em or OutKast, but there’s still fun to be had.
Friday, August 1st
- Savemoney (inc. acts like Vic Mensa, Joey Purp, Kami deChukwu, and others) 10 p.m. at Reggie’s (18+, $12)
Saturday, August 2nd
- Run The Jewels w/Ratking 10 p.m. at Double Door (21+, $25)
- Red Bull Sound Select Presents Jhene Aiko w/ Shy Girls 10 p.m. at Reggie’s (18+, $20)
Sunday, August 3rd
- Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 7 p.m. at The Vic Theatre (18+, $25)
- Nas w/ Vic Mensa 10 p.m. at House of Blues (17+, $47) *
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; follow Terence on Twitter @DotescoNorfPole