Eating History

Heirloom grains star in the new Family Meal at Big Jones

"The chef tends to go really rich with these menus," the server warned us.

Indeed, the new heirloom-grains-focused menu at Paul Fehribach's Andersonville restaurant, Big Jones, is a relentlessly hearty parade of the finest Southern grains and peas.

But for lovers of history and carbohydrates, what a parade it is. The vegetarian dinner ($25) is the restaurant's new Family Meal, a themed menu that changes each month. (December featured recipes culled from the 1967 cookbook Savannah's Cookin'.)

January's meal opens with Sea Island Red Pea bisque, to be ladled around an airy benne (sesame seed) flour biscuit and garnished with pickled green tomatoes. Red Fife flour for the accompanying sourdough is milled in-house; the rough-hewn bread is superb with honey and pear butters spread on top.

Next comes a garlicky Carolina Gold risotto studded with cauliflower and yellow-eyed peas. Then, an herb-packed salad of green farro and local black walnuts, and a rich crock of Kuri squash, heirloom-flour noodles and leeks. Finally, for dessert, buckwheat crêpes with candied kumquats and horchata ice cream made from Charleston Gold rice, which is aged with laurel leaves in oak barrels.

Try the menu for the next month; come mid-February, it will adopt a Mardi Gras theme.

Big Jones, 5347 N. Clark St.; 773-275-5725 or bigjoneschicago.com