Dining

Personal Chef

High-end comfort food to go at Real Kitchen

"We're taking our training and turning it back on the food we grew up eating," says Real Kitchen's executive chef, Nick Schmuck.

How lucky for us that the fruits of this venture are available to go at this new Ravenswood storefront.

Recently the saucier at Charlie Trotter's, Schmuck oversees an ever-changing takeout menu of comfort food held to lofty standards. On a recent visit, the broth of a pork ribollita ($8) was exceptionally rich and deep, and green beans ($3.50) were adorned with pancetta, almonds, sautéed mushrooms and lemony crème fraîche.

Freshly made pasta is turned into lasagna, or offered cut to order as linguini, angel hair or sheets ($6 per pound). Bolognese sauce, meat stocks, and pantry staples like olive oil, sea salt and vinegars are among the useful kitchen supplements for sale.

But no dish screams "fine-dining background" like the BLT ($6.50). It begins with a meltingly soft slab of house-cured pork belly layered on a Bennison's baguette with slow-roasted tomatoes, pickled cippolini onions, avocado, arugula and a slather of mayonnaise. It's a chef's ideal post-work snack; here, it's available during daylight hours.

The sweet side is equally impressive, with lemon-poppy seed pound cake, biscotti and elegant fruit tarts baked by Andrea Correa, an alum of Trotter's, El Bulli and Noma.

Correa's handiwork, like Schmuck's, confirms Real Kitchen's slogan: "Food your mother would cook...if she'd been to culinary school."

Real Kitchen, 1433 W. Montrose Ave. (at Clark St.); 773-281-2888 or realkitchenchicago.com

Real Kitchen 1433 W. Montrose Ave. Chicago IL 60640 773-281-2888
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