At the north end of the Southport Corridor in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood sits SIP – Southport & Irving Restaurant and Bar – featuring local and seasonal produce with a global influence. Open since 2012, SIP, which took over the space that housed the brunch favorite Deleece, is a neighborhood restaurant that hearkens back to the Jazz age and offers great food at affordable prices.
My husband and I recently dined at SIP on a Friday night, when both classic cocktails and live jazz in the front bar are on the menu. Other weekly specials include Neighborhood Appreciation Mondays with 21% off for locals, half priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays, Chicago Jazz on Thursdays, and Moveable Feasts on Saturdays inspired by Hemingway and his travels. Even though the cocktails and music date back to the 1920s, the menu on the other hand showcases classic dishes with a modern spin.
Instead of the typical bread and butter, SIP serves a lovely Pimento cheese spread with crackers, and it was a wonderful amuse-bouche to warm up our palates.
We then began with the 7 heirloom grain “risotto,” with a poached Genesis Growers egg, truffle, and pickled mushrooms. The heirloom grains offered an al dente texture to the dish that I enjoyed, while my husband was expecting it to be more of a true risotto. I appreciated the healthy spin on the Italian staple, and it was one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
Another favorite was the study of winter vegetables, which featured pillowy and delicious heirloom squash gnocchi, fried Brussels sprout leaves, roasted pear, and parsnip cream. I would have been completely pleased with enjoying this dish as my main entrèe, as it had enough flavor and heft to leave me satisfied, but luckily we shared so I had room for the delectable scallops.
The seared diver scallops were perfectly cooked and juicy, and sat atop an addicting sweet potato chile puree, with purple potato chips, grilled Nichols Farm apples, and grilled carrots. The flavor combination was wonderful and offered a hint that warm weather is just around the corner. Our meal was off to a fantastic start.
We also tried the pan-seared wild striped bass, with Chanterelle mushrooms and a lentil succotash, along with Riesling braised fennel and a brown butter vinaigrette. I am typically a sucker for anything with brown butter, but something about this dish felt off. While my husband enjoyed it, I thought that it had too many competing flavors, along with an unplaced sweetness – possibly the Riesling braised fennel.
My husband absolutely loved the smashed Nichol’s Farms sunchoke and fingerling potatoes, with crème fraiche, sunchoke chips, and fried sage. While the potatoes were a bit too rich and creamy for my taste – almost like a potato salad – he could not get enough.
To finish our wonderful meal, we enjoyed a cool and refreshing sponge cake Tiramisu, fittingly served in a Champagne coupe, with Mascarpone, Cognac, Kahlua, cocoa crème, pistachio, and cocoa nib. It was a great end to our meal, and once again highlighted that SIP takes classic dishes and gives them a modern twist with current ingredients.
My husband and I enjoyed our meal at SIP and plan to return. We were surprised by the small turnout in the main dining room, but it was Easter weekend, and when we went to the front bar to listen to some Jazz, it was bustling. SIP is a true neighborhood gem perfect for families, couples, and friends, and even solo visitors in the front bar.
SIP is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner seven days a week, and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. SIP is family friendly, with kids eating free from 5-6:30 p.m., and in warmer months, a 45 seat outdoor cafe is available.
4000 North Southport Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60613
While my meal was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.