J. Parker- Your Drinkin’ Buddy in the Hotel Lincoln

J. Parker was apparently President Lincoln’s bodyguard.  Rumor has it, he was out for a drink while Lincoln was assassinated.  Hence the name of the rooftop bar in the Hotel Lincoln.  Funny, huh?

The J. Parker opened earlier this summer but for some silly reason I didn’t make it over there until this fall.  The thing is, beside the outdoor rooftop on the 12th floor overlooking the city, there’s a charming little indoor bar up there, too.  That means we can get all of Chef Paul Virant’s tasty bites all year long.

And trust me, both the snacks and the drinks are delicious and worth the trip.

J. Parker, Chicago

The menus is broken down into a couple of sections.  The first section allows you to build your own plate by choosing a base, like charred beets or walleye pike toast, and adding a second component, like lemony pea shoots or house made creme fraiche with chives.  This is total heaven for a person like me.  For those who think this is hell (you know who you are), the second section of the menu contains completed plates, so fret not.

Here’s an example of a build-your-own:  Walleye pike toast with preserved hot pepper & tomato vinaigrette.

J. Parker, Chicago

The beet pickled deviled egg with creme fraiche come as is.  They’re deliciously creamy and tangy with a little crunch.J. Parker, Chicago

I’m usually a fan of anything rillette (cooked, pulled meat mixed back in with it’s melted, cooled fat) and Chef Virant’s rabbit version with pickled ramps is no exception.  You know he’s the pickling master, right?  He has rooms full of pickled and preserved produce that he and his team make all summer to use through out the year.  It’s pretty impressive.J. Parker, Chicago

For me, the sweet potato beignets with candied pumpkin seeds and maple, sherry gastrique should have been on the dessert list.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re tasty… but seriously sweet!J. Parker, Chicago

The seared scallops with olives and arugula are as good as they look… and were perfectly cooked.
J. Parker, Chicago

Charred roasted beets are tossed in a raspberry vinegar… from column B they’re topped with farm fresh cheese.
J. Parker, Chicago

My favorite item on the menu (yes, I tasted the entire menu) may be the charred romaine with creamy smelt (salt cured in-house, of course) dressing, parm and a poached egg.  Like the best caesar salad ever.J. Parker, Chicago

A nice veg option is the delicata squash with cider braised onions and mushrooms with pickled garlic.  Yum!J. Parker, Chicago

And talk about flavorful, the ham and potato pierogis are wonderful on their own but try them with the creme fraiche for extra richness and zip.J. Parker, Chicago

We are in Chicago, after all, so it’s no surprise that there’s also a full size burger on the menu.  Smoked cheddar and a soft, buttery, toasted bun make it fabulous.  It’s served with “pickles” (we got pickled green beans) and a spicy carrot “ketchup” which is actually more like a puree as the tomato component was nearly undetectable.  Interesting and delicious.
J. Parker, Chicago

Oh dessert…  How about a plate of cookies?J. Parker, Chicago

Or butterscotch or bittersweet chocolate pudding?  (Let me tell you:  The chocolate is TO DIE FOR!)  There’s alwo toasted gingerbread with buttered rum apples for the hardcore sugar lover.J. Parker, Chicago

I suggest you get there early if you’re going this winter since the indoor area is quite cozy and quaint.  And if you haven’t been when it’s nice out, you’ll want to do that as soon as it happens again, too!J. Parker, Chicago

Don’t pass up the cocktails, either!  Mixologist Erin Hayes does wonders with market fresh ingredients, house made bitters & syrups and interesting spirits.  Like Chef Paul’s dishes, the drinks do not disappoint!

J. Parker

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