The former Chaise Lounge spot is beginning to seem like something straight out of the Houdini handbook – one day it’s there, the next day it’s not.
When the third restaurant this year opened in the prime North Avenue locale, it was an understatement to say I was skeptical. Even more skeptical of the owner’s claim to make comfort food classy. But with a slogan of “kickass bar + comfort food,” apparently the saying holds true, the third time really is a charm. And a Southern gem at that. Whether it’s a mint julep you’re after or home-style fried green tomatoes, The Southern is hopefully setting down roots to be a permanent resident of Wicker Park.
The space was completely transformed literally overnight. Gone is the South Beach-y minimalist décor and in its place, high tops, booths for six, and a rustic timber bar. And you better believe people are taking notice. Getting rave reviews are the deliciously decadent Poutine ($9), a heart attack on a plate smattering of fries, cheese curds and tasso ham, the Cornbread Salad ($9) laced with pulled chicken and buttermilk dressing, and the Cheese Straws ($4), which come slathered in aged cheddar and truffle mayo. I personally guarantee after one meal here your grandma surely won’t be saying “You’re looking a little thin today.” But diners beware; it’s so good you won’t want to share. Possibly the best part of the experience is that Chef Cary Taylor comes to personally introduce himself and schmooze in typical southern fashion.
The brunch menu is also gaining toehold as your best new hangover cure. With Banana Foster French Toast ($10), Bacon/Chocolate ($10), and my personal favorite, the Ode to Waffle House ($12), you will surely have no trouble sopping up the extra alcohol from a rough night on the town.
Note: If you’re coming here to fix a craving, call ahead. The Biscuits and Fried Chicken are only available at brunch or per special order and require 48 hours notice.