Recently I hit the legal age to run for the position of Commander in Chief. But instead of beginning a campaign for 2012, I went out to celebrate with Rebecca and our good friends Art and Chelsea (of Pleasant House fame). Old Town Social in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago has been on my list of places to check out for some time. I recently mentioned them in my Chicago Charcuterie posts here and here. I had enjoyed some of their charcuterie at some local festivals, but had never been into the place.
As some of our favorite friends with whom to dine, these two were down with ordering a bunch of share-able items. It's actually pretty easy at OTS, because the menu is quite geared for sharing. We opted for the cheese platter, the charcuterie platter and the accoutrement platter. One thing I would have liked to be a bit different with these would have been the ability to select the items on the platters. Many places offer the choice to build your own when it comes to platters, but OTS has all three of their platters pre-selected. This isn't horrible, especially when one can be indecisive (like me), but tonight, I was in the mood to select!
The charcuterie platter was great. It came with Finnochionna, Pepperone, Summer Sausage, Lardo and Mortadella. Every single one of these was executed perfectly. Textures, tastes, scents and moisture content nailed to the T. While items like this can be found across the city in high-end grocery stores, every single one of these was executed in house. Somehow Chef Jared Van Camp has gotten clearance from the infamous health department to do these goodies in the traditional way in a Chicago kitchen.
Our cheese platter was chocked full of goodness as well. It included Avondale Truckle Cheddar (c), Ader Kase Reserve Blue (c), Meadow Creek Dairy Grayson (c) and Zamorano (s). Again, each was a great selection of locally sourced dairyland deliciousness. I would like to have seen more than 2 of 12 cheeses not being a cow's milk. But they were tasty! Our "bar snack" accoutrements were 5 again preselected servings of marinated olives, awesome smoked almonds, a crunchy spiced chickpea, a somewhat runny but tasty piccalilli and some nice house-made pickles. Besides the 3 platters we also enjoyed: my always loved snack of deep-fried house-made pickles (top photo); a dish of asparagus, goat cheese, ramps and ham vinaigrette; frites w/ aioli; and even a nice and simple dessert of pecan pie.
The one thing I will surely be saving room for on my next visit is going to be the pork belly sandwich. It is currently served with a cider glaze, apple and blue cheese cole slaw and a chili aioli. The beer list here is quite extensive and the menu does a great job of describing and organizing the brews. The service was decent. We had a waitress who was working her first night solo. She did pretty well under the circumstances. We, a table of culinarians, found it funny when she described the lardo as "italian butter." We were amused!