Porkchop

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
West Loop
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My meal at Porkchop would have been more pleasant had my dining companion not spent it retelling the plot of Deliverance. I’d like to say this morbidity was no fault of the restaurant’s, but really, morbidity is what you get when faced with a wall made up of dozens of saws.

Fortunately, the decor is the least pleasant part of Porkchop, the latest in a sprinkling of middle-of-the-road bars (the Shady Lady) and cafés (two Bagel on Damens) affiliated with onetime nightlife operator Dion Antic. Antic’s premise for Porkchop is that the restaurant “couldn’t care less about overpriced drinks and ill-fitting food trends” (per the website), hence the menu is simply devoted to…whiskey and pork, two ingredients whose trendiness has been blown to such proportions that it’s possible Antic doesn’t even realize the irony of his mission statement.

A decent selection of whiskey served neat with an ice bucket set down on the table is the way to start. At least, it’s a better way than with a watery, sweet and kind of sad Dark & Stormy, or the Manhattan that comes with a maraschino wrapped in damp bacon. As far as this anti-overpriced drinks thing goes, they’re both $10: I’d rather have paid $12 for something I could actually enjoy.

A shrimp cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce is a fair way to proceed, as is the Caesar salad with fat-drenched croutons. The main courses hew toward Southern-inspired comfort food. Juicy green tomatoes fried in a crunchy cornmeal coating take the BLT up a notch: It’s a very satisfying sandwich, even if it feels like something you could make at home. A pork chop takes a more intense (and less successful) trip to the fryer: Parts of the coating were burnt, parts of the pork chop inside were rendered sinewy and tough, and there wasn’t nearly enough gravy to hide these mishaps.

An ice-cream float splashed with a shot of Red Stag is not a terrible way to cap off a meal here, though it was, on my visit, the only way. In any event, by the end of dinner in this practically deserted restaurant, I had learned to imagine much worse endings.

By Julia Kramer

Venue name: Porkchop
Contact:
Address: 941 W Randolph St
Chicago

Cross street: between Sangamon and Morgan Sts
Opening hours: Dinner (closed Mon)
Transport: Bus: 8, 20.
Price: Average main course: $15
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