The Kids Are Invited, at Patti Ann’s

Do young children belong in eating places? On a current Saturday, I made a decision to check the premise of a brand new place that appears to ask them in: Patti Ann’s Family Restaurant and Bakery, the newest Prospect Heights enterprise from the chef Greg Baxtrom (recognized for Olmsted and Maison Yaki, each close by), full with stroller parking. At 5 P.M., I unleashed my brood—son, three years outdated, and daughter, eleven months—on its spacious, cheerful eating room. A pair of trendy excessive chairs materialized instantly. Crayons and exercise books have been dropped with the menus. “Feel free to make a mess!” a number urged genially, as my son made a beeline for cabinets displaying an attractive array of image books and toys.

Baxtrom, who grew up on a farm south of Chicago, named Patti Ann’s after his mom, whose dwelling cooking and basic consuming habits encourage a lot of what’s provided right here. (“Chef Greg is in the Midwest at a Cracker Barrel with his parents as we speak!” a server reported.) There isn’t any youngsters’ menu; the entire menu is appropriate, theoretically, for teenagers—besides, in fact, for an inventory of cheekily named cocktails, such because the Summer Break (a prosecco spritz) and the Parent Teacher Conference (Scotch-and-soda with umeboshi).

There isn’t any youngsters’ menu at Patti Ann’s; except for alcohol, every little thing is theoretically appropriate for teenagers.

“O.K., but don’t spoil your appetite,” I discovered myself scolding, for the primary time in my parenting profession, as my son shovelled potato chips into his mouth. The chips—Jays model, initially made in Chicago—have been poured, from a single-serving bag, right into a cut-crystal bowl (“Tastes better if you decant it, for some reason,” the server quipped), to accompany “goop,” a cream-cheese-fortified French onion dip, which Patti Ann herself makes for firm, and which my sauce-averse progeny refused in no unsure phrases.

My son additionally rejected the Cobb Dip “salad,” leaving extra for his dad and mom, who marvelled at its blue-cheese base, aerated to the feel of Cool Whip (significantly better than it sounds), topped with neat rows of bacon bits, egg, and avocado, and served with endive leaves for scooping. He turned his nostril up at mustard, however not at the pig in a blanket atop it—an nearly absurdly thick-cut slab of bacon in a lovely coil of puff pastry. Is ketchup a sauce? Please, no one inform him. A gently packed, palm-size sphere of meat loaf, constructed from a complete roast duck and glazed in house-made cherry ketchup, was fortunately devoured by each member of the household. So, too, was a bowl of mashed potatoes so excessive in fats that, the subsequent morning, my husband swiped some on his toast, mistaking the chilled leftovers for the chive butter that I had additionally introduced dwelling, from a small grocery choice within the bakery, at the again of the restaurant.

Cheekily named adults-only cocktails embody, from left to proper, Summer Break (a prosecco spritz), Spirit Week (mezcal with hibiscus), and Ditch Day (rum and banana).

For dessert: child’s first float, a beneficiant scoop of dense vanilla ice cream served in a frosty Dad’s Root Beer stein, with a glass bottle of the soda (first manufactured in Chicago, now sourced from Indiana) to pour on prime. With the verify comes a “report card,” assigning your desk grades for topics together with Manners, Clean Plate, and Mathematics.

On one other night time, with out the youngsters, the entire shtick was barely much less charming. (The incontrovertible fact that my grades have been decrease didn’t assist.) For a extra grownup style of Chicago, you can attempt Emmett’s on Grove, within the West Village. A derivative of Emmett’s, in SoHo, which provides a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich along with deep-dish pizza, the considerably swankier Grove Street iteration is modelled on a mid-century Midwestern supper membership, with a red-sauce bent and a give attention to Chicago’s lesser-known thin-crust, square-cut tavern pizzas. On a current go to, the acoustics have been felony and the spaghetti was a contact shy of al dente, however the Grasshopper, a play on the basic, creamy after-dinner drink, was spot on. Call it a cocktail or name it a float: an infinite Easter-egg-green swirl of vanilla ice cream blended with crème de menthe and crème de cacao, completed tableside with a splash of Fernet-Branca. (Patti Ann’s dishes $8-$28.) ♦


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