Longman & Eagle has long been on our list to try when we could get back to Chicago. Opened for three years, Longman & Eagle is the most unassuming Michelin-starred restaurant that we have been to, offering excellent $8 cocktails and very reasonably priced upscale gastro pub fare, set in a rustic environment. Owners Land and Sea Dept., a development firm started by Cody Hudson, Robert McAdams, Jon Martin and Peter Toalson, partnered with Seattle transplant Chef Jared Wentworth to bring affordable food and drink to Logan Square. Wentworth’s modernized take on American comfort food changes frequently, as it is based on seasonality of the best that local farms have to offer. With a very extensive list of whiskeys available by 1.25 oz tasting or 2 ounce glass pours (also at very reasonable prices), Longman & Eagle is another embodiment of the BarFly’s dream come true.
They do not take reservations, but the wait doesn’t seem to take too long, especially for a celebrated restaurant of this caliber. Diners can either elbow their way to the bar, or wait it out around back at their relatively new Offsite Bar (OSB) at Longman & Eagle (L&E). Complete with it’s own walk up mini bar where you stand in line to order, OSB’s drink list is a small subset of that at L&E, but still offers plenty in terms of beer and whiskey and other spirit choices. They also have their own abbreviated menu of bar snacks that is not available at L&E.
It was a pleasant evening, so we made our way to OSB and started with a couple rounds of drinks. Mixing drinks right behind the counter where orders are placed, the bar tender is efficient at filling all the orders for a line of people that ebbs and flows. Like its big sister L&E, no cocktail costs more than $8, even with substitutions of one spirit for another. As Negroni fans, we started with the Negroni de Aquila (Aperol, Punt e Mes, orange zest) and Dante’s Paradise (Aperol, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit juice, Stiegl Radler, drops of Mezcan and habanero shrub). The chili shrub of the latter cocktail was just enough to make the lips tingle while drinking the very refreshing drink:
We also ordered the Longman Manhattan; they obligingly replaced the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon with George Dickel Rye (Rye, Punt e Mes, lemon twist, Angostora and cherry bitters). No cherry was required as it was covered by the bitters, and the slight citrus flavor added by the literal twist was a nice touch:
A peek through the OSB door where orders are placed and drinks are concocted — they can do a lot with such little space:
We finally made it into L&E where we were presented with a menu simply labeled “EAT” and a small booklet titled “DRINK.” Already two rounds in, we started with a couple more Whiskey Cocktails of the Word Find (Rittenhouse Rye, Green Chartreuse, Cherry Heering, simple syrup, lemon juice), and the Rhode Island inspired Kitty Greene (1776 Rye, lime juice, demerara, orange bitters, ginger ale), named after the wife of a Revolutionary War general. The menu is full of witty write-ups describing the drinks, and the Word Find, which is derived from the Last Word, explains that, “If you can’t find words to describe your satisfaction, we can help, ‘I’ll take one more please.'”
It was time to eat, and, after ordering, they presented us with an amuse bouche to start off our evening:
The menu is separated into Small Plates, Bar Snack and Entrees sections. We ordered the Slagel Family Meatballs off of the Bar Snacks menu which were excellent. Served on a bed of creamy polenta and then topped with a cheese fonduta and parsley pesto, this dish was comfort food great:
We moved on to ordering off of the Small Plates section, and The Housemade Burrata came accompanied by various heirloom tomatoes, basil and arugula. Topped with a gazpacho vinaigrette, the curd-filled cheese paired really well with the sweet ripe tomatoes:
Also from the Small Plates, the Blue Crab Ravioli served in a clear tomato consommé was elegant and tasty. The lobster mushrooms and black truffle shavings added intense earthy flavors, while the baked cherry tomato halves added a hint of sweetness:
As the last of the small plate items we shared, the Seared Scallop and Truffle Braised Pork Cheek was a great version of a surf and turf dish. Set atop a delicious lentil, corn and squash succotash, both the scallop and the pork were cooked to the perfect amount of rareness:
As great as the food is, we would be remiss not to discuss Chief Mixologist Derek Alexander’s excellent cocktail program. We didn’t ever stop drinking as we made our way through several cocktails and whiskey tastings during our two meals there. Like the food, the drinks are seasonal, and the Root and Rye (Rittenhouse Rye, Cardamaro, old fashioned bitters) was the perfect drink for a hot summer day. As a precursor to root beer, an herbal concoction made with herbs and roots including sarsaparilla, sassafras and birch bark was originally alcoholic. Their drink menu further explained that the “In the 1900’s, the Temperance Movement conspired to take all the fun out of everything, a chemist removed the alcohol … so that coal miners of Pennsylvania could still enjoy it at work.” L&E definitely brings the fun back with their version of Root and Rye:
Chef Wentworth’s modernized take on the ultimate comfort food, the Sloppy Joe, is worth the plane ticket (along with the meatballs). This wild boar sloppy joe served on a very soft brioche bun is strictly a knife and fork affair, lest you are willing to lose any of the tasty meat filling. Crisp fried sage and onion strings added great flavor and texture. The fries cooked in beef fat were the perfect side dish to this updated sandwich.
As for our other entree, the Dry aged Prime New York Strip Steak was as excellent as everything we had already eaten. The pre-sliced steak studded with a fava bean caponata was accompanied by an Oxtail Crepinette (similar to a thick patty) wearing a Pomme Anna “halo” made of crisp fried potato slices. Chicago smartly overturned their ban on goose liver, so as a steak sauce we could never experience here in California, the foie gras bordelaise was a ridiculously delicious rich sauce for the steak and oxtail:
We don’t normally eat dessert, but we had to try their take on the toaster pie: the Sweet Corn Pop Tart served with Old Style Beer(!) Ice Cream. Pastry Chef Jeremy Brutzkus is a genius at bringing savory elements into reworked old time classics. His addition of a brown butter and maple syrup puree, popcorn flavored creme caramel, caramelized sorghum (grass) and saffron oil all worked with the pop tart:
Lastly, we just had to try the Sazerac Twinkie, stuffed with a Sazerac puree and accompanied by a black currant pudding, bitters custard, and Absinthe flavored ice cream. All of the flavors of a Sazerac cocktail were well represented by the different ingredients. We did order a round of Sazeracs to accompany this updated Twinkie — easily the best looking and most flavorful one we have ever eaten:
A look down the bar of L&E shows the rustic interior with the long bar and small kitchen towards the back. The door at the very back leads to OSB, and the sign proudly proclaims “Rooms, Wines, Liquors” which can all be had at Longman and Eagle (note: we never actually made it to their wine list since we were too busy with cocktails and whiskey):
We have shown the EAT and WHISKEY offerings at Longman and Eagle; the SLEEP part is the six rooms available upstairs. Equally stylish to the restaurant, the rooms are not really for the shy types, as bathrooms are quite prominently displayed behind see-through glass (check out the very cool rooms at the website below).
With excellent food and a bar that is very reasonably priced, Longman & Eagle is definitely the most accessible Michelin-starred restaurant we have ever dined at. It would be great to see this type of restaurant proliferate elsewhere, but at least we know it’s just a plane ride away. Chicago will now be a mandatory stopover for our yearly sojourns to Europe, as our go-to place to drink, eat and drink (and maybe sleep), particularly at Longman & Eagle, conveniently located in Logan’s Square right across the street from the Blue Line stop.
http://www.longmanandeagle.com/garage/ (Offsite Bar)