Dillman’s is the latest addition to Brendan Sodikoff’s growing empire of fantastic city restaurants, including Gilt Bar, Maude’s, Bavette’s, and Au Cheval. Open for seven months, it took over the space recently occupied by Steve’s Deli in River North. Dillman’s went through a bit of an identity crisis when it first opened, originally as Dillman’s Delicatessen. While guests flocked to Dillman’s hoping for the Jewish deli delights that Steve’s previously offered, including a deli case, the feel of Dillman’s was far different. After taking over from Steve’s, the space was completely revamped into a dark, swanky restaurant with big, red leather booths, chandeliers, and a fancy feel. As a result, Dillman’s ditched the “Delicatessen” from its name so as to avoid confusion and better communicate its concept.
While the brunch menu at Dillman’s does offer the traditional bagel and lox, potato pancakes, and pastrami sandwiches, it offers much more that exudes an American Brasserie flair. The lemon poppy muffin is delicious and large enough for a table to share as a starter with coffee or a latte. Tea is served whole leaf in a large metal pot and is poured through a strainer into antique china tea cups. The housemade granola served over yogurt with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey is light and flavorful and another good starter option.
The omelette, featuring spinach, carmelized onions and cheese – our choice was Swiss rather than blue – was so creamy and delicious and easily one of the best omelets that I have ever had. The bagel that is served with the smoked salmon is so large, the three of us were only able to eat one half of it. It was the perfect vehicle, however, to blend the wonderful flavors of the tender smoked salmon, housemade cream cheese, capers, fresh dill, and a squeeze of lemon.
Unlike the food, the service was only mediocre. As we were waiting for the third member of our party to arrive, plenty of servers passed our table but not a single one stopped to say hello, bring us water, or take a drink order. When our server did arrive, she was pleasant, but appeared disinterested in even being there. She also brought us the incorrect type of bagel with our salmon and remained aloof throughout our meal.
Aside from these minor missteps, our experience at Dillman’s was a positive one, thanks to the warm and comfortable ambiance and delicious food. And, much like Sodikoff’s other restaurants, Dillman’s will be producing great food for a long while to come.
354 West Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654