Nestled into the quiet northern end of the bustling Southport Corridor in Lakeview, Southport and Irving (SIP) offers globally inspired, seasonally driven dishes in a fun environment that pays homage to the Jazz age. Located in the space formerly occupied by neighborhood favorite Deleece, SIP has a decidedly speakeasy-esque vibe that is evident in everything from the decor (tufted leather benches, heavy brocade curtains) to the handcrafted Prohibition-era classic cocktails.
Diana and I were recently invited to stop by the cozy restaurant to sample their spring menu, along with a few (or five) of their throwback cocktails. As soon as we walked in, we realized that we were there on the perfect evening - every Thursday is Dame Thursday, featuring live jazz by Elaine Dame, as well as original cocktails offerings created specifically for the evening of swinging urban jazz. Of course, as much as I love a good cocktail and a cool setting, a good restaurant is more than just its liquor and atmosphere, right? I'm happy to say that as much as I loved (loved, loved!) those delightful cocktails, they weren't even the best part of our visit - the food really took the starring role.
(image courtesy of SIP)
Along with Dame Thursdays, SIP offers several other weekly specials including Neighborhood Appreciation Mondays with 21% off for locals, half priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays, Speakeasy Fridays with live jazz, and Moveable Feasts on Saturdays inspired by Hemingway and his travels.
After perusing their extensive drink menus, we eventually both chose gin-based cocktails. Diana kicked off our meal with a Cherry Rickey (CH London Dry Gin, Maurin Quina & housemade cherry soda phosphate) and I chose the Shakedown (Nolet’s Gin, lavender syrup, The Bittered Sling orange-juniper extract & Cava). Both of these cocktails were so delicious that we ended up ordering the exact same drinks during our second round!
Rather than separating dishes into appetizers/entrées, the menu is arranged to move from the smallest plates to the largest, so you can easily order multiple sized dishes for yourself or to share. Diana and I decided to start out by sharing a few of their smaller dishes; of course, my lobster and bacon-lovin' self immediately zeroed in on the Poached Lobster & Coffee-Cured Bacon Poblano and Cheddar Grits with Gunthorp Farms smoked ham & wild mushroom cream. The sweet lobster, subtle heat of the poblano, creamy grits, and crisp bacon combined to make one fantastic dish!
We continued our tour through the small plates with an order of Mini Cast Iron Skillet Mac n’ Cheese with thyme, biscuit & bread crumbs. Being bona fide mac n' cheese lovers (and believers that anything that comes in a mini skillet is worth ordering), we knew we absolutely had to try out SIP's version. The creamy cheese and crunchy crust on this mac was so good that we actually ended up ordering a second skillet later on in the meal!
Figuring we needed to round out our small plates order with some vegetables, we chose the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette, kimchee & crispy shallots. Again, Diana and I are both big fans of Brussels sprouts (this is why we work so well together at restaurants!) and we tend to be harsh critics, as we've eaten our way through many of Chicago's Brussels sprout offerings. We both highly appreciated the addition of the kimchi, as the salty sourness perfectly complemented the roasted Brussels sprouts; the crispy shallots also offered a nice textural contrast.
After the small plates, we each chose to order our own large plate dishes (and share a few bites from each, of course). Diana picked the Hanger Steak Chimichurri with sunchoke smashed potato, fried sweetbread & sauce gribiche (a thick, flavorful egg-based sauce). As I mentioned on Instagram, this steak was so rich and decadent (not to mention visually appealing)... it was like a plateful of perfectly cooked delicious art!
I chose the Seared Diver Scallops with sweet potato-chile puree, purple potato chips, grilled Nichols Farm apples & grilled carrots. This dish was *exquisite*! The scallops were so juicy & tender, and the sweet potato-chile puree was ridiculously addictive. The dish was topped with this delicious sweet and spicy sauce, accented by crunchy chips... whew. Really, the flavors of this dish were just so on point - I would return to SIP based on these scallops alone!
Finally, we ended our evening with a dessert that highlighted their modern twist on a fairly traditional dish: Sponge Cake Tiramisu (Mascarpone, Cognac, Kahlua, cocoa crème, pistachio & cocoa nib). I particularly enjoyed the presentation of this tiramisu and that fact that it was far less sweet than its traditional counterpart.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at SIP: 4000 N. Southport Ave, Chicago, IL.