First Visit: AMK Kitchen Bar Opens Today in Bucktown
Last night, some friends and I had the pleasure of trying the menu at AMK Kitchen Bar before the restaurant’s official debut today. Can I just say, please don’t ever let me move to Wicker Park/Bucktown. My hips couldn’t handle it. The neighborhood boasts some of Chicago’s best tacos, donuts, ramen, and, now with AMK, some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.
From the sign on the door to their displayed collection of over 60 whiskeys and bourbon varieties, AMK is all American. Expect the expected presented unexpectedly. Like, Dorito Pie (still in the bag) served next to cloth napkins and made with smoked sausage, juicy beef brisket, and covered with fontina cheese.
Let’s just get into it. Here’s the whole picture.
AMK Kitchen Bar
The atmosphere: A brick façade surrounds a large open garage door, perfect for the warm weather we’ve been enjoying. Dining feels al fresco as a stiff, clean breeze occasionally passes through. The kitchen and bar are located inside of the dining room as the entire place is small. Overall it’s comfy, not cramped. I foresee long wait times, though, due to the diner’s 70 guest limit.
I should also mention the music, ‘cause the mix here is pretty great. In about 70 minutes we reminisced over Interpole, Biggie, Wu Tang, and Tribe Called Quest. I mean, we even heard some Paperboy. If AMK ever put out a mix tape, I’d absolutely fork over like $10 for it on iTunes. But I digress…
What type of American? Think: Comfort food made better. Aside from the Dorito Pie mentioned above, they’ve got grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, banana pudding but it’s nothing like you remember. Choice meats, fine cheeses, and fresh ingredients are thoughtfully put into each carefully made dish.
From the menu: For starters, I had the Tiger Shrimp and Brussels sprout salad. If you’re a fan of Sunda, the salad may seem familiar. Restaurant owner Steven Tsonis picked for his executive chef Barney Smith, formerly of Sunda. My guess is that the salad came from Smith. It was good but I won’t miss it if I never have it again. The tiger shrimp is a more memorable way to begin, well-seasoned with ale batter, honey glaze, and topped with smoked almonds.
Wood fired pizza made with turducken sausage and peppers was an all-around pleaser and our final course, the braised pork belly served with warm potato salad, finished flavorful but a little too fatty. The crowd favorite by a landslide? Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Juicy Amish chicken marinated in spices, then fried in buttermilk and flour, placed atop mashed potatoes so buttery, fluffy and cheesy they’d cure even the staunchest vegan. There are few spots in Chicago that prepare chicken this well, in my humble opinion.
On the libation side, I recommend the Basil 46, made with Maker’s 46 and peach liquor, and the Goat Radler, made with rye and served in a coup glass.
You Should Know
- There are no televisions at AMK but for big sporting events (Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, etc) they may bring a few in temporarily.
Atmosphere: 3/4. With a space this small and food this good, expect long wait times. Once inside, the seating is comfortably cozy.
Service: 4/4. Knowledgeable and friendly waiters and hosts. Even a waiter who wasn’t serving our table stopped over to say hi. I’m easily impressed.
Price: 3/4. While I’m not completely sure on the price, it’s been reported that an entrée could reach up to $22. In that case, the dishes we were served, I hope, are smaller than those offered regularly.
Food: 3/4. AMK is off to an amazing start. Things like presentation will be improved as the eatery irons out newbie kinks. Still, you can look forward to an amazing, inspired take on traditional down home staples.
First Visit Rating: 3.25
AMK Kitchen Bar