The Mercury Theatre is one of my favorite local venues. Over the years, I had only dined in the adjacent Deleece’s a few times, but now that John and Lynne have changed the restaurant to a “farm to table”, and after tasting a few of their items, we came in for a chance to sample the full menu. What a menu it is! The room is very homey, with just enough light to see the elegant dishes being served, while at the same time, a restful and peaceful way to end the day. “Grassroots” is a neighborhood eatery, that is open for dinner except for weekends when they open earlier for brunch and lunch. Being located at 3747 N. Southport, they are adjacent to the Mercury and just a few doors north of the famous Music Box, where the elite meet and watch artsy and classic films.
As is our norm, Jane and I brought another couple allowing us to sample many of the items on this glorious menu. Our waiter Steve was both knowledgable about the menu items and very personable, seeing to our every request. The bar pours a great drink (a sure sign of my return) and the appetizers that began our evening were varied and delicious.The skirt steak tacos, had a little kick (probably the charred tomatillo slaw and onions), while the fried calamari (buttermilk marinated, flour dusted, with a hint of jalapeno aioli) was amazing- crisp and juicy. The caramelized onion and sweet potato tart was “to die for” and because I love Mac & Cheese, I had to try theirs (not to be missed-offered with bacon, lobster and /or mushrooms).
We did order one of their salads (they have a huge selection), the BLT Salad (grilled romaine, cherry tomatoes, bacon,lardons, radishes, pecorino-romano, house green goddess dressing & house reduction made garlic croutons) and everyone was amazed at the great flavors of this combination. I am not a huge salad person (except for those prepared by my friend Casey, who somehow creates salads that I truly adore), but this one, with the fresh, home-grown vegeatables worked. Grassroots is a true farm to table establishment with all of their food coming from local farms and purveyors. A lot from Three Oaks Michigan, which is just 90 minutes away from the Southport Corridor.
The dinners we ordered were: Steak Frites Kaminski Farms (3 Oaks Mich) 14 day dry aged sirloin, grilled, hand cut fries, house made aiola, Their salmon (caramelized salmon, black rice, spinach , leeks, pear ginger beurre blanc, Stout Braised boneless short-ribs (from Frank’s Farm in Michigan) with twice cooked potatoes (wow!) in a natural stout jus, and the Roasted Chicken Breast (from local Harrison Farms in Glenview), roasted with garlic butter and rosemary, sautéed haricot and scalloped potatoes. This free range chicken breast was amazingly tangy and delicious. We also enjoyed one of their artisanal pizzas, the “sweet and savory” house made sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, honey-drizzle. The pizza takes only 90 seconds to bring to the table, perfectly prepared. The special oven is what allows for this to be as wonderful as it is. Not to be confused with all the quick heat pizza places that are opening, this pizza tastes as good as your old- time favorites. Perfect if you are running late for the theater and quite satisfying.
We even had some deserts. By the way, Grassroots makes their own ice cream and there are great flavors to select from, Remember Whoppers malted milk balls? They have ice cream with malted milk balls in it and this is “to die for”! We also enjoyed a Michigan Apple Crisp with butterscotch pecan ice cream over the apple pieces that were prepared with love and to top it off, a caramel-chocolate fudge brownie that had the malted milk ice cream, and chocolate-pecan toffee brownie. By the way, Grassroots has coffee from the Pickwick Coffee company (www.pickwickcoffee.com) soon to be available throughout Chicagoland.
The menu also has sandwiches from a Cuban to a Club as well as tuna tacos, a kids menu with some special items for the little ones including brunch items and they do offer some special Prix Fixe menu items- February: soup or salad, an entrée and a desert (including an orange bread pudding for a mere $25.00 . If you are heading down to see a show at the Mercury (the current show “I Left My Heart” a tribute to Tony Bennett is amazing (see my review at Theater /or cabaret) or to catch a movie at the Music Box, why not enjoy a dinner that will be a great memory for that night? This is the place for sure-affordable prices, great portions, delicious dining and the friendliest of staffs- Grassroots. Call 773-325-1710 to make a reservation or visit http://www.GrassrootsChicago.com
The address is 3747 N. Southport and while there is street parking (metered), there is also (on show nights) valet parking and a lot just north of the restaurant. During the baseball season (they are just a few blocks from Wrigley) it could be a bit of a parking problem, but it is worth finding a spot to get these flavors and tastes-Enjoy! I know we did!