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Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors in Avondale

Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors in Avondale
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  • Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors in Avondale

    Post #1 - July 8th, 2018, 3:35 pm
    Post #1 - July 8th, 2018, 3:35 pm Post #1 - July 8th, 2018, 3:35 pm
    There have been several mentions around the forums about Ludlow Liquors and Old Habits, the foodservice component that's situated inside the bar (here, here and here, and probably others, too). I figured I'd start a dedicated thread and since this post is mainly about the food, I'm putting it here in the EOiC forum.

    The bar occupies the former Orbit Room space and is helmed by Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue who, along with Heisler Group, also helm the bouncy, pan-latin-themed Estereo in Logan Square and the gritty, nouveau/psuedo-dive bar Sportman's Club in Ukrainian Village. Ludlow is the first venture for this duo outside of -- and apart from -- Heisler, but their natural ability to provide lived-in comfort and welcome-back hospitality shines through from the get-go. The space is inviting with a well-stocked, burnished-wood back bar and creamsicle-orange, art deco-style accent lighting. There's also an exceptional patio space on the east side of the building with a dedicated satellite bar and seating for 60+. In short, the place is a perpetual party.

    As if all this weren't enough, under the moniker of Old Habits, chef Nick Jirasek and sous chef Eric Valdivia run the kitchen inside of Ludlow and from there, are turning out some the city's best bar food. In fact, it's almost a mild insult to refer to it as bar food because even though many of the offerings are perfectly suited to be eaten in a bar setting, the food itself far transcends the category.

    For example, a friend and I recently enjoyed a dinner of Shrimp Fried Rice and Chikin Delight (smoked jerk chiken, dirty rice, coco black beans). I've also enjoyed -- on more than one occasion -- the Chicago Rib Tips (classic smoked rib tips en su jugo, chicha, cheesed flour tortilla & seeded slaw) and their calling card sandwich, the Beefy Boi (pot roast sammich - braised brisket and cheek meat, house giardiniera aioli, onion crips, salt n vin chips)

    Most recently, I stopped in with the family for some pre-dinner beverages and bites . . .

    Image
    Crab Dragoon (crab meat, everything crm chz, grunions), Filipino Egg Rolls (beef, pork, spam, patis)

    Image
    Shrimp Fried Rice (laughin bird schwumps, old bay rice, egg), Frensch Cut Fries w/bolognese, aka Bolo Fries

    For reference, here's a shot of the printed version of the menu . . .

    Image
    Old Habits menu - 18.0707

    It's a great pleasure having this fine and friendly establishment within walking distance (though, I generally don't walk under the Kennedy after dark! :shock:). It's a quintessential neighborhood spot, and it feels that way from the moment you walk in. And just to be clear, even folks from outside the neighborhood are treated warmly there. :wink: On appearances this is not the kind of setting in which one might typically expect to find food this compelling or destination-worthy. But having been through most of the menu -- and some of it multiple times -- I can say with certainty that is. So, if you're a fan of great food, you need to check out the fare being put out by Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors.

    p.s. The bar offerings are equally notable but that's a story for another post.

    =R=

    Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors
    2959 N. California
    Chicago, IL 60618
    (773) 754-7492
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #2 - July 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm
    Post #2 - July 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm Post #2 - July 8th, 2018, 6:45 pm
    Now on the short list. Ron, does this need to be date night only or would a well-behaved child be welcome? Audrey would be all over those Rangoon.
  • Post #3 - July 8th, 2018, 7:34 pm
    Post #3 - July 8th, 2018, 7:34 pm Post #3 - July 8th, 2018, 7:34 pm
    LynnB wrote:Now on the short list. Ron, does this need to be date night only or would a well-behaved child be welcome? Audrey would be all over those Rangoon.

    I'm honestly not sure about that. I've never seen any kids in there but perhaps during the day? I think the patio opens at noon on Saturdays and Sundays (and google confirms this). I guess it'd be best to call and ask.

    Re: the Crab Dragoons, much like Old Habits' Lumpia, they're delicious, and imo, represent a serious upgrade from 'traditional' freezer-to-fryer versions that are typically served elsewhere (heck, even their names and descriptions are playfully changed-up). They basically feel homemade.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #4 - July 8th, 2018, 7:53 pm
    Post #4 - July 8th, 2018, 7:53 pm Post #4 - July 8th, 2018, 7:53 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:p.s. The bar offerings are equally notable but that's a story for another post.

    I have to push back on this. I'm entirely deferential to you with regard to the food, which is not my style of cuisine but has earned praise everywhere I've seen and is full of unique twists on old favorites. As for the beverage element, that shouldn't be conflated with Old Habits food menu of chef Nick Jirasek.

    I've been for drinks like 5-6 times. It's okay because of its convenient location and now, their impressive patio. But the drinks are pre-mixed and nothing special. The ambience and service are fine, but don't think you're getting anything in the same league as Heisler ventures like Queen Mary or Estereo.
  • Post #5 - July 8th, 2018, 7:59 pm
    Post #5 - July 8th, 2018, 7:59 pm Post #5 - July 8th, 2018, 7:59 pm
    I loved the vibe, decor & tunes here. A place I felt totally comfortable and at home saddled up to the bar solo.

    I have to work my way around the menu, but the lumpia were some of the best I've had, with a wider girth reminiscent of a Viet spring roll– more meat than wrapper, bringing the juicy salty Spam-infused core into the forefront. Loved the sharply acidic dipping sauce as well. And cute pres in the Spam can.

    I think fans of the Depot pot roast sammy will feel misled (if you've read any of the back story about the menu in various reviews.) The grilled toast its built on is greezy from top to bottom, more like a melt (+ the beef is kinda suadero-like), rather than the soft pillowy textures of the OG. Not a bad sandwich, but for those of us with deep nostalgia for the Depot, this won't take you back. That lumpia sauce was great for cutting the richness tho.
  • Post #6 - July 8th, 2018, 8:10 pm
    Post #6 - July 8th, 2018, 8:10 pm Post #6 - July 8th, 2018, 8:10 pm
    bweiny wrote:But the drinks are pre-mixed and nothing special.

    This is incorrect. There are only a couple of cocktails, mainly the punches, that are batched. Most are mixed to order. Maybe this differs on the patio? We mainly sit at the bar inside, where the bartenders are typically mixing drinks all the time.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 8:22 pm
    Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 8:22 pm Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 8:22 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    bweiny wrote:But the drinks are pre-mixed and nothing special.

    This is incorrect. There are only a couple of cocktails, mainly the punches, that are batched. Most are mixed to order.

    I'm afraid you're mistaken. The page that lists their 8 combinations available in 1, 2 or 3 oz servings have been pre-mixed (with the possibility of 1-2 ingredients being added at serving on a couple of the 8 I haven't tried). I've ordered and watched it first hand. Drinks that have 5-6 ingredients are served after 2-3 oz are poured out of a single dark/black bottle, then mixed with ice and served up or on the rocks. My statement was not incorrect.
  • Post #8 - July 8th, 2018, 8:53 pm
    Post #8 - July 8th, 2018, 8:53 pm Post #8 - July 8th, 2018, 8:53 pm
    bweiny wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    bweiny wrote:But the drinks are pre-mixed and nothing special.

    This is incorrect. There are only a couple of cocktails, mainly the punches, that are batched. Most are mixed to order.

    I'm afraid you're mistaken. The page that lists their 8 combinations available in 1, 2 or 3 oz servings have been pre-mixed (with the possibility of 1-2 ingredients being added at serving on a couple of the 8 I haven't tried). I've ordered and watched it first hand. Drinks that have 5-6 ingredients are served after 2-3 oz are poured out of a single dark/black bottle, then mixed with ice and served up or on the rocks. My statement was not incorrect.

    Hmm...Flower Lords, Old Fashioneds and Escapists ordered yesterday were most definitely made to order from start to finish, with no batched components whatsoever (two are currently on the menu, the other is not). That said, I have no problem with partially batched cocktails, depending on which components are batched and which are added at service.

    =R=
    There's a horse loose in a hospital -- JM

    I am not interested in how I would evaluate the Springbank in a blind tasting. Every spirit has its story, and I include it in my evaluation, just as I do with human beings. --Thad Vogler

    I'll be the tastiest pork cutlet bowl ever --Yuri Katsuki

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #9 - July 18th, 2018, 11:53 pm
    Post #9 - July 18th, 2018, 11:53 pm Post #9 - July 18th, 2018, 11:53 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:There have been several mentions around the forums about Ludlow Liquors and Old Habits, the foodservice component that's situated inside the bar (here, here and here, and probably others, too). I figured I'd start a dedicated thread and since this post is mainly about the food, I'm putting it here in the EOiC forum.
    [edit - images snipped to save bandwidth {mine}]
    It's a great pleasure having this fine and friendly establishment within walking distance (though, I generally don't walk under the Kennedy after dark! :shock:). It's a quintessential neighborhood spot, and it feels that way from the moment you walk in. And just to be clear, even folks from outside the neighborhood are treated warmly there. :wink: On appearances this is not the kind of setting in which one might typically expect to find food this compelling or destination-worthy. But having been through most of the menu -- and some of it multiple times -- I can say with certainty that is. So, if you're a fan of great food, you need to check out the fare being put out by Old Habits @ Ludlow Liquors.
    p.s. The bar offerings are equally notable but that's a story for another post.

    Second of all, there's no need to walk under the expressway overpass. The CTA route #77 Belmont bus runs 24 hours a day. That is north of the venue. Comparison: The #76 Diversey bus quits a little after 10:00 pm. That's the route you would contact if you walked under the expressway overpass.
    The area is definitely gentrifying. This may be the point we have to put LTHF GNR Carniceria Guanajuato on the watch list lest Whole Foods or some other national natural grocer attempts to buy it out.
    What was the 1st part? :lol: I'm not a cocktail (or whiskey | bourbon) drinker (for the most part), so I can't speak for the ingredients or the preparation of those sippables. The beers on offer run the spectrum. There's a sleazy megabrew if you want to have that. Yes, there are quite a few India Pale Ales on tap. :| But there are other craftbeer styles also.
    I'll go here again one of these days.
    Learn what Bing prefers you not know: http://208.84.112.25/~pudgym29/bookmark4.html

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