Smooth Operator

Sonny's Hideaway plays it cool in Highland Park

Want proof that Highland Park is morphing into the city's hippest dining destination?

Look no further than Sonny's Hideaway, a dark, brooding restaurant on York Boulevard that has managed to fly under the radar since its May opening.

Housed inside a 90-year-old dining room lined with leather banquettes and a long wooden bar, Sonny's hides a surprising culinary one-two punch: a formidable cocktail menu by J. Kelly O'Hare of Austin's Eastside Showroom, and a multifaceted menu by Jimmy Everett, a former sous chef at NYC's Marea.

Twists on traditional bar food impressed us: A plate of what looked like chicken nuggets is, in fact, chicken-fried sweetbreads ($14), laced with thyme and D'Anjou pear purée. Pickled green tomatoes gave an acidic boost to a burger blended with bacon ($14), and poached squid stuffed with spicy andouille ($13) was sliced into colorful sections of surf-and-turf sausage and smeared with black olive sauce.

From the bar, we were gobsmacked by the Napoli Death Toll ($13), a tropical storm in a glass made from rum, Acqua di Cedro and passion fruit, with the added flourish of a flaming cinnamon-scented lime crowning its rim.

Sonny's isn't short on flair, but it's the substance behind the style that has us taking note of this neighborhood standout.