I often get asked about my favorite restaurant in Chicago. To me, that is like asking a mom who her favorite child is … either you don’t have one or it’s not a question that you can really answer. For me, I don’t have just one favorite, but I do have a short-list and on that list is Ruxbin. I have been there a couple times this summer and each time walk away saying yeah, I really like it there.
For those of you not familiar with Ruxbin, is resides in West Town, just off Ashland, near Chicago ave. The Korean-American, executive chef Teddy Kim, (his childhood nickname played off the kiddy character Teddy Ruxbin, hence the restaurant name) is the man behind the great food at this spot. In 2011, it was named one of Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America.
The restaurant itself is a small joint, probably only 12-15 tables and they don’t take reservations, so I usually head there before 7pm as opposed to waiting for a couple hours. I rarely get to touch on my green side when talking about food, but here much of the eclectic décor is re-purposed furniture and I love it. church pews for your seats, old schoolhouse desks as lamp shades, and cookbooks as wall paper… creative and environmentally friendly. Ohh and how could I forget the bathroom, good luck on figuring out how to get in.
The staff fits right in as well. Up to snuff on the food and flavors but equally as assorted as the decor … our last server was a cute woman in spandex shorts and a cowgirl button up.
For the food… it changes seasonally so don’t get too excited about the below. That being said, there’s literally nothing there that I haven’t liked.
- Frog Legs with Masala – the frog was tender and fresh, on the bone. The Masala with through me for a loop at first, but really worked quite well. Though I think good Indian spices can make almost any dish.
- Duck Breast –Baby Greens, Shaved Fennel, Snow Peas, Orange, Mustard Vinaigrette. I like duck, but I love this duck! Honestly, this is probably the best duck I’ve had. Succulent in the center and crispy on the outside and not too game-y. The peas, orange and mustard vinaigrette added a nice texture and balance to the meat.
- Quail – Buttermilk Fried with Watermelon & Tomato Salad, Watermelon Pickles, Basil, Mint – YUM!
- Scallops with pork belly – Summer Succotash of Root Vegetables, Pork Belly, Dandelion & Legumes, Grilled Corn, Poblano Beurre Blanc
- Pretzel and Beer– Sorbet with Chocolate stuffed pretzel donut holes. Just reading this had me drooling and truth be told we also had some of the truffle fries as well for dessert. Our server caught us dipping our fries in the beer-milk sorbet and said verbatim “I was hoping you would do that, it’s like a gourmet Wendy’s frosty and fries”.
The icing on the cake is it is BYOB. Being a foodie can be an expensive habit, especially, if you’re like me and appreciate house cocktails, fine wine and craft beer with your meal. So heading in here with my own selection of beverages at more than half the cost is awesome.
If Ruxbin isn’t currently on your short-list, I highly recommend you check it out and then report back on if it makes the cut.