A Gourmand’s Playground

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A place where spectacular wine and elevated snacking reigns supreme? This gourmand’s playground takes form inside of Lush Wine & Spirits. Truthfully, I’ve driven past this place more times than I would care to admit, never realizing it wasn’t just a wine and spirits store. I had been missing out. The menu is chock-full of exciting snacks, cheese and meat included, but trust me when I say you want to go out of your comfort zone. If you only order from the snacks and sandwiches and salads sections, you’ll know why. You can get cheese anywhere — you can’t get their gourmet creations anywhere else in the city. The food is in a class of its own.

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Photo Credit: IMR Chicago

So where better to start the meal than with a recommendation from the owner, Mitch Einhorn? The Serrano Salad is made with Serrano ham, English peas, Parmesan cheese, Marcona almonds, pickled peppers and micro-greens that are locally sourced from Urban Till. The thinly sliced Serrano ham makes this salad. This Spanish delicacy is complemented by the salty and savory flavors that accompany the aromatic ingredients.

How do you follow up something so impeccable? With deep-fried chickpeas marinated in truffle oil. The crunch that develops after deep-frying these delectable morsels is everything. Skip the bowl of nuts the next time you’re sitting at the bar and opt for this. It will completely change your perspective on bar snacks.

Photo Credit: Leah Nolan

The next dish served opened my eyes to what scrambled eggs could be. The Mangalesa Nduja and Scrambled Eggs is something I’ve been dreaming of since I visited. The Nduja sausage has a slight spiciness that is complemented by the fluffiness of the eggs. How do they get their eggs so fluffy? By mixing them with crème fraîche. This magical combination makes an ideal late night snack, especially if you’ve enjoyed one to many of their wine selections.

Speaking of wine selections, the moment you walk in the door feel free to reach for any bottle on the shelf. Why? Because you can enjoy it right there while you indulge in gourmet snack after gourmet snack. Mitch Einhorn is not only a food aficionado – the man knows his wine. After perfecting the food arena he started his own wine label: Chateau Nomad. His prized wine? The Trousseau Gris. Why have you never heard of this? Because it’s distinct. This wine is very rare in the United States and when someone told Mitch he couldn’t make it he very nicely told them to you-know-what off. And now he has a booming wine label, talk about being told you can’t do something and rising above!

The last thing you should take a bite of? The Cranky Lobster. Made with lobster knuckles, Japanese soy sauce and butter, this is another dish you won’t find anywhere else. The meatiness of the lobster is everything you want in a lobster “snack”. Delicious!

Photo Credit: IMR Chicago

With Fried Chicken and Champagne on Monday nights, I have every intention of returning. While I have not experienced this flavorful evening, I have had the pleasure of sampling the aftermath, aka the Chicken Salad Sandwich (made with the leftover fried chicken). I’ve also been told that creating the fried chicken is a four-day process — it starts on Friday and finishes on Monday. Made with Calabrian chilies, seasonings, buttermilk, rice flour and fried in bacon fat infused with garlic – this is one fried chicken you’ll think about for the rest of your life.

This snacker’s paradise is a deliciously low-key place every gourmand in the city needs to revisit over and over again. With an ever changing menu, you never know exactly what you will get when you visit, but you can always count on the fact that it will be delicious.

1412 W Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642


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