941 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
You think you’ve mistaken the address for a local underground gallery until you’re greeted with “The Cotton Duck” brazenly illustrated on a graffiti gateway. A fine dining experience that cares for its foie gras more than finished ceilings, The Cotton Duck effortlessly materializes food for thought as you’ll soon find yourself forking into a cut of Dry Aged Bavette while contemplating the harsh lines of expressionism.
Currently displaying “The Art of Diane Thodos” with a seasonal 3-month menu to match, this restaurant spotlight is all about fine art complemented with New American cuisine. Priding itself on its low-key ambiance, co-owners Dominic Zumpano and Cecilia Lanyon invite you to enjoy a bit of duck confit without the stifling shirt and tie policy. Based in Chicago’s East Village, just follow the tiny Christmas lights in Cotton Duck’s courtyard that’ll lead you into a brick and mortar space surprisingly barren – aside from the glorious display of oil and acrylics on canvas. Open for brunch and dinner hours, its menu is as original as its rotating art exhibitions from beef tongue bacon to blue fish in shrimp butter. Choose to “Duck & Run” with one of Cotton Duck’s take-out burgers or spend the afternoon brunching on “Seahorses” – a whimsical mimosa pairing Champagne Peach Shrubbery with orange juice.
Leaving anything gaudy in the Chicago River, feast your eyes on a quiet Chicago gem on No. Damen Ave. that lets the art and entrees speak for themselves.