Slightly hidden amongst the warehouses in Chicago’s Fulton Market sits a restaurant unlike any other in Chicago. More evocative of something found in New York City’s Meatpacking District, diners at newcomer Fulton Market Kitchen (“FMK”) embark on a sensory experience that enlists more than just the taste buds. Instantly, the restaurant’s aesthetic takes over and one is drawn into the surroundings, including the rugged exposed brick walls, eclectic artwork, candelabras, and various rooms with unique characteristics.
The main dining room shares its space with a large bar that was lined with patrons even on a Wednesday evening. High top tables sit in the center of the room, and lower tables and booths skirt the edges. The back room houses low black leather couches and chairs, perfect for cocktails. Another room with a single table and ten chairs is the ideal spot for a group dinner; and finally a fourth room has more dining tables and is also good for group events. Guests are encouraged to stroll through the various rooms in order to take in the artwork and decor. Even the restrooms trip the senses with mirrors and colors.
Each diner is given what looks like a coffee table book which also serves as the menu. Servers are knowledgeable about not only the drink and food offerings, but the vibe of the restaurant and the art on the walls. The restaurant’s decor sets the stage for the creative cocktails and artistically created dishes to come.
Since it was a school night, I originally intended to stick with water, but that was quickly out of the question after perusing the tantalizing cocktail menu. I was immediately drawn to the Beg. Borrow. Steal., a tequila-based cocktail with Thai chili-infused green chartreuse, pineapple, lime, and cilantro. The perfect blend and balance of just enough sweet with just enough spicy, this is my new favorite cocktail of the year.
We then shared the scallop crudo, grilled cauliflower, and grilled octopus to start. While the scallop crudo, sliced thinly and served with radishes, citrus, celery, and shaved beets lacked any real zing in the flavor department, I thoroughly enjoyed the grilled octopus, which was served cold, with cherry tomatoes, lemon, frisee, and a light Greek vinaigrette. The octopus was nicely cooked and the dish offered a perfect balance of flavors. Wonderful, too, was the grilled cauliflower, a dish which highlighted the restaurant’s aim of showcasing the intersection between art and food. This dish was truly artwork on a plate, with celery, capers, currants, quinoa, and colorful cauliflower beautifully displayed, which also tasted great.
Our selection of entrees included a phenomenal rye crusted salmon, cooked perfectly and served piping hot with braised red cabbage, pickled onions, yogurt, preserved dill, and fried capers. This dish was outstanding. The burger-n-fries featured grass fed Angus beef, with pickled onions, oven dried tomatoes, fried kale, and a special sauce, and offered a perfect burger-to-bun ratio. The french fries on the side were delicious. The pappardelle, with confit of hen, English peas, mushrooms, and parmesan, was also a winner at our table.
Dessert offerings are limited, but expertly prepared. Our choice was a chocolate pudding reminiscent of a tiramisu, with a crunchy base, and smooth and creamy layers. Not too heavy, nor too sweet, it was the perfect end to our fantastic meal.
Fulton Market Kitchen is a welcome addition to the Chicago dining scene and I look forward to discovering more of what FMK has to offer, on its plates, in its glasses, and on its walls.
311 North Sangamon, Chicago, 60607