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Lardon’s team debut union is Chicago Magazine


When was the last time we registered with the team behind Lardon, a restaurant focused on culinary products, has just opened and filled its cave of medicinal products with a variety of meats. Six months have passed since then – the restaurant has matured our list of the best new restaurants and received the Michelin Bib Gourmand Award; now the team has opened a related restaurant. Union, housed in the same building as Lardon, is the cousin of the original beer-oriented restaurant, with an expanded menu but the same culinary spirit as in the original.

When I last spoke to owner Steve Lewis and chef Chris Thompson, they planned to bring to Lardon high-end dinner dishes when the restaurant was ripe. Although the dishes were well received, it was wiser to give Thompson’s cooking another place to shine. “Our main goal is for Union to be the dominant presence in the evening,” Lewis said. While Lardon can handle a crowd that runs all day, Union is a place for dinner after work or a date.

While Union has extensive and well-matched lists of beer and whiskey, Lewis and Thompson have worked hard to make sure it’s not just another food bar. “We didn’t want a good restaurant, we didn’t want a pub – we wanted something average,” says Lewis. Thompson agrees: “There is nothing out of the ordinary on our menu. It has echoes of what you think of a place with 24 drafts, but also what would be in a culinary place. ”

Not surprisingly from a team that does everything from scratch, even seemingly simple snacks at Union are the product of serious work. Take a classic (and delicious) bar snack – stuffed fried olives. Thompson’s idea of ​​the dish is a three-day process. “Mortadels are emulsified and stewed, chopped and chopped; pitted, stuffed and breaded olives, ”he says. And, of course, everything is made by hand from whole pigs that regularly come to the restaurant. Pimento cheese (another staple in the bar) is paired with salum from a cave in Lordane and then served with homemade crackers. “Everyone has a little more love,” laughs Thompson.

This craft spirit means not only that the menu has some fancy clues; it also helps make the Union more affordable, especially at a time of inflation and increasing all restaurant costs. By making all its butchers in the house, Union keeps its dishes available; all the extra pieces go to the cave to turn them into sandwiches in Lordane. “We have to be very cunning,” Thompson explains. “In this post-COVID moment everything is hard; but the requirements of the guests have not changed. “

Although the menu can be enlarged, the beer list still remains a key part of Union’s appeal. Lewis ’beer program, run by Lewis, focuses on what the neighborhood wants right now. “We have a ton of sour beer, funk beer. We saw the neighborhood reaching out to them, ”Lewis says. He has also worked with brewers across the city to list Union’s exclusive and hard-to-reach beers. “Craft beer is so available now that you need a list you can’t see when you walk into a local room.”

In the short time that Union has been open, it is clear that customers are coming up with a team approach. Instead of ordering beers and burgers, more popular menu items turn out to be some of the most popular. It is also (like Lardon) already becoming an industrial hangout, which is facilitated by the fact that it is open for dinner seven nights a week.

Thompson and Lewis plan to continue promoting the envelope of how amazing they can make both their restaurants; here do not rest on your laurels. As Lewis says, “We want every diner to say, ‘Who will I bring here next?’

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