Good Pikk for beer night 

Pikk's Tavern had a lot to live up to. Besides having a great location at the old digs of Adobo Grill (and having the same executive chef - they're both owned by Chicago-based Da Vinci Group), Hans Maldonado helms the bar. Maldonado has a wealth of craft beer appreciation and knowledge, which he shared from his former post at Hot Shotz. He's not bad at liquor either: Maldonado was the only one who could make me a vodka Chilton worth drinking.

His taps lineup at Pikk's now includes a variety that will please the hop head, brown beer boozer and Liteweight alike. Try it out during pint night, where most selections go for $2.50 a beer.

The food seems made to complement the beer, starting with the simple bar vittles - jalapeño and ranch-seasoned popcorn, kept crisp and fresh via an airtight plastic bin that may just be the best thing to happen to bar food since nut crackers.

There's little of the exotic on the gastropub-inspired menu: sandwiches, steakhouse appetizers like onion rings, calamari and shrimp cocktail and, yes, steaks themselves comprise most of it. That's why duck sausage corn dogs ($8.99) stand out even more, besides their endorsement on the menu as a "Pikk's favorite." A more telling endorsement was the amount of cocktail glasses with skewers of brown batter being shuttled across the barside dining room. I ordered some.

My first bite must have involved some sort of tendon strap. My friend watched as I pulled the meat farther and farther away from my face, teeth latched to one edge of the grayish-brown mass. Other pieces were slightly less tough. At least the batter was thin and crisp, as you'd expect from an upscale corndog. And I enjoyed the slightly sour but addictive rosemary honey mustard sauce where the pieces rested. Just not quite with this mystery meat.

I salvaged the sauce for the impending mini burgers ($5.99), just in case. The waitress prompted us to choose between cheddar topped and blue cheese stuffed. We chose the latter. They were succulent, maybe a bit pink in the center for the squeamish. But wait - why was I seeing a pink center where there was supposed to be blue cheese? I would have liked to taste a little more of that.

Moving along to full meals, Pikk's does meat surprisingly well. My first hint: It seemed a linebacker was dining near me one night. He single-mindedly plowed through a bountiful chopped salad arranged in rows of avocado, egg, bacon, blue cheese and more before graduating to a plate of steak and baked potato. He had barely stopped to wipe his mouth.

So I ordered the open-faced flank steak sandwich ($12.99). It came out a beastly beaut: an oblong piece of garlic toast soaked the juices of grilled (slightly fatty) meat that was splayed over sweet steak sauce. It was topped with giant grilled onions. Dark and thin but thick-skinned fries piled up on the side. It's hard to screw up meat and potatoes, and indeed, this dish has that soul-satisfying essence.

Their muffaletta ($8.99), however, left a little to be desired. There's nothing technically wrong with this by-the-book mixture of black forest ham, mortadella, salami and provolone covered in olive salad and sandwiched between thick bread. But it felt a little thin, a little dry. Maybe more layers and a sprinkle of olive oil throughout, or a firmer toast to infuse all layers with the olive salad's oily goodness, would have given it a final push toward greatness.

In all, though, Pikk's does what a gastropub should: offer better-than-average food in between a strong tap lineup. Cheers.

Pikk's Tavern

4939 E. 82nd St.




Monday-Thursday: 5:30-10 p.m.

Friday: 5:30-11 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.


Monday-Thursday: 4:30-10 p.m.

Friday: 4:30-11 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Food: Three stars

Atmosphere: Four and a half stars

Service: Three stars

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