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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!