Housed in Thalia Hall, built in 1892 as a public hall, Dusek’s is a new farm-to-table restaurant from the team behind the Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle. Dusek’s does not offer a particular cuisine, but rather a compilation of well-executed and interesting dishes that pair well with its extensive beer menu. While an edited selection of wines and cocktails are offered, the emphasis here is on the draft and craft beers and the food that is expertly paired with it.
The interior of the restaurant is warm and inviting. Reservations can only be made for parties of five or more, so if you have to wait, the front bar is the perfect place to grab a drink and snack, such as the brandade fritters served atop a nutty romesco sauce, or the stuffed pretzel. I mean, what pairs any better with beer than a delicious freshly made pretzel?!? The main dining room is darkly hued and dimly lit and shows off a decorated tin ceiling, evoking the original public hall’s era. A wood-burning oven occupies the center of the dining room and the aromas coming from that oven will whet any whistle. Good thing the kitchen sends out an ever-changing amuse-bouche to hold over hungry tummies as the menu is perused.
The iron roasted Prince Edward Island mussels, made with smoked pimenton and warm Harissa butter, is an absolute must. These mussels are unlike any others I have had before. No soupy broth here, but rather a pile of roasted mussels served in an iron skillet with a nice smoky and spicy taste. SO good! The BBQ fresh Gulf prawns were equally delicious and flavorful, served with collard greens, Anson Mills grits, and a one hour egg to bring the dish together. I would have been an extremely happy camper enjoying these dishes alone. But, of course, everything on the menu looked delicious, so our stomachs made room for more.
The vegetarian Moroccan spiced vegetable tagine, comprised of cous cous, dried fruit, spiced feta cheese, and an herb salad, pleased even the carnivores at the table. The flavors blended seamlessly together. For the meat eaters, go with the crispy pork shank and you will not be disappointed. The meat, brushed with a maple gastrique, was so tender that it fell off the bone. A root vegetable hash, cheddar hush puppies, and braised greens rounded out the dish.
The dessert menu is equally as appetizing as the main menu, so save room if you can. We went with the roasted chili churros, filled with dulce de leche and served alongside a rich and delicious bittersweet chocolate sorbet. The salted peanut dust underneath offered the perfect salty component. A plate of assorted cheeses is also available for those, gasp, lacking a sweet tooth.
If you are not already in a food coma and have more room in your belly, the Punch House, downstairs, is open until 2:00 a.m. It serves eight different punches, available by the glass, carafe, or bowl. Four cocktails are also offered, in addition to the same bar and dessert menus as Dusek’s.
Service at Dusek’s is flawless; especially by our server, Jack, who was knowledgeable, courteous, and coursed our entire meal perfectly. His recommendations were on point, allowed us plenty of time to chat and peruse the menu before ordering, and let us know when our eyes were becoming bigger than our stomachs, which we appreciated. His guidance certainly rounded out a perfect dining experience.
Dusek’s is a unique and flavorful addition to Pilsen, and I recommend that you move it to the top of your dining destination list.
1227 West 18th Street, Chicago, IL 60608