My friend Wendy recommended a wonderful restaurant, Ruxbin, that we tried a few weeks ago. Wendy has good taste, so I expected this place to be great and I was even more excited when I was at the Time Out Eat Out awards the night before our date and saw that it was nominated for Best New Chicago restaurant 2010. Another great place called Girl and the Goat won- you can read my review of G & the G here.
Ruxbin could have just as easily won, however. G & the G has a celebrity chef in Stephanie Izard which might have had a role in their sweep of Best Restauranteurs and Best New Restaurant.
Anyway, Ruxbin is definitely worth a visit for many reasons: the food, the interesting interior and the fact that it is BYOB baby! Love BYOB. Ruxbin's website describes itself as an "American Bistro" with "steam-punk decor in a sepia-toned menagerie". After looking up a few words (what the heck is "steam-punk"??), I agree with the description. According to Wikipedia, steampunk refers to a sub-genre of science fiction or "speculative fiction" that involves an "era or world where steam power is still widely used" such as the 19th century such as Victorian era Britain. Often steampunk works feature futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them. The way this translates into Ruxbin's interior is that they have used various objects from yesteryear and incorporated them into a restaurant environment. They call it "Triple-R: Refurbished, Repurposed and Relcaimed."
This actually works really well and it was fun to read about the various 'surfaces' before heading over to dinner. For example, some of the seats are baptist church pews from Southern Illinois, some of the wall coverings are flattened apple juice shipping crates and there is a wall covered by tin ceiling tiles from a previous Rockford Mayor's mansion (see right).
While enjoying this fun interior w/ our glasses (ahem...bottles) of BYOB wine, we perused the menu. Ruxbin describes the food as "American comfort punctuated by [Edward] Kim's Chicago-born, Le Cordon Bleu trained, Korean American palate". That's a mouthful. Can we just say high end American w/ a Korean twist? I asked a friend for food recs before arriving and we ended up ordering based on them. Everything we had was delicious, met or exceeding my expectations for a restaurant of this caliber.
For dinner, Wendy had the Hanger Steak w/ crispy greens, kimchee potato hash, caramelized yolk and guajillo ketchup. I had the Pan Seared Trout w/ bulgur wheat tabbouleh, asparagus, dates and basil (pictured right). For the full menu, click here.
Since we were still busy plotting our take-over of the world (read: future vacation destinations), we ordered dessert. I've professed my love for panna cotta on this blog in the past so it's no surprise that we ordered the panna cotta w/ lychee and toasted coconut. Yummers!
I'd definitely recommend a visit to this unique, fun and BYOB haven. It's over in West Town, on a very ugly street, but once you are inside, it's divine. I'd be more than happy to head over there again. The interior is interesting and worth seeing. However, I'd recommend going w/ a friend or friends rather than a date because it's a bit on the cramped side- not much privacy. So grab some friends and head over!