Middle West Spirits' new restaurant, Service Bar, threw a fantastic sneak peek dinner in July 2016 at Fox in the Snow. Then the waiting began. In the interim, owners Brady Konya and Ryan Lang managed to keep their executive chef, the brilliant Avishar Barua (formerly of Veritas Tavern), busy creating concoctions in Middle West's distillery. Last fall, the city's second distillery/restaurant opened to early accolades. The dining room has a midcentury feel with clubby black banquettes, white octagonal floor tile and gold accents. But the real star, visually, is the antique bar: a behemoth dating from the 1870s that had a past life in pre-Prohibition Chicago. (How they got it into the building is a success story itself.) The seasonal cocktails, developed under the guidance of beverage director Gerad Guhde, rise to the prominence of the bar they're served on. But, like Watershed Kitchen & Bar, this distillery offshoot takes the food seriously (and even offers a full vegetarian menu). Barua's menu, which you can expect to change often, displays his grasp of technique and creativity while playfully expressing his Midwestern upbringing, Bangladeshi roots and world travels. You'll find Barua's take on Johnny Marzetti as well as his ode to drunken, late-night Chinese fare—the popular Crispy Ribs featuring a sticky “Commander Tso's” sauce crafted from Middle West's own maple syrup. Thankfully, the wait is over.
Order Up: Whole Chicken
Grab a friend (or three) to help you polish off chef Barua's version of a Sunday chicken dinner, featuring a tandoori-marinated breast, chai-brined fried drums and wings and his mom's Bangladeshi chicken curry. Salt-flecked naan tops it off.