Maude’s Liquor Bar

Restaurants , French West Loop
Recommended
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It’s harder than it looks to nail it, the look and the feel of “effortless cool.” It’s even harder to straddle the fence between bar and restaurant, so that everyone eating gets drunk and everyone drinking ends up feeding their face. But that’s what’s happening at Maude’s Liquor Bar, the latest from Brendan Sodikoff (Gilt Bar, Curio). The two-hour weekend wait signals restaurant. But ramble up the stairs late night and it’s a whiskey-fueled roundtable of postwork line cooks, serving themselves from a community bottle then paying by the honor system at the end of the night.

That industry crowd rarely makes it to Maude’s before midnight, when the kitchen closes, so they miss the food their brother-in-arms Jeff Pikus is putting out, a menu as indulgent and classic as his past work at Trio and Alinea was groundbreaking. But nothing is lost on the deep-pocketed scenesters who arrive before them, who gulp down delicious whiskey smashes and stab at $70 shellfish towers. These are the folks paying for those gleaming subway tiles (which don’t come cheap, not even the randomly chipped ones), the mismatched crystal chandeliers and that Victorianesque sofa. But in return they’re getting butter-smooth chicken liver slathered on toast with fig marmalade, ideal with a gin and crème de violette concoction dubbed “Smokey Violet.” And still-quivering oysters from both coasts. And big fat mussels, smartly steamed in a broth studded with punchy picholine olives but inexplicably, annoyingly left with beards intact.

Backed by a sultry soundtrack of the Velvet Underground (and the occasional Fugazi track), these people push on, the tab tallying higher as the servers, Urban Outfitters models who know their trade, deftly pace a parade of glasses and plates. An uncommonly airy terrine of pig parts. Smoky slabs of pork belly, fanned over a pitch-perfect salad Lyonnaise. A pint of porter for the creamy blue cheese in the brilliant shaved vegetable salad. A glass of Grenache for the yolk-topped beef tenderloin tartare. A yeasty Belgian saison with drunken braised chicken thighs and legs. And on and on it goes, with roasted bone marrow and foie gras torchon and sausage-studded cassoulet, all nailed with finesse. The embarrassment of riches comes to a halt at dessert, when the servers bluntly convey that crème brûlée, and only crème brûlée, is available. But when it arrives, the sugar evenly branded brown by a white-hot iron plate, it’s clear that like everything about Maude’s, this display of brass would be maddening, if only it weren’t so dead-on.

By Heather Shouse

Venue name: Maude’s Liquor Bar
Contact:
Address: 840 W Randolph St
Chicago
60607
Cross street: between Green and Peoria Sts
Opening hours: Dinner
Transport: El stop:Green,Pink to Clinton. Bus:8,20,56.
Price: Average small plate: $12
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|3
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Madeline N
Tastemaker

I love Maude's, the fact that they are the first place I've been to that serves French Onion Soup Fondue is crazy as its such an obvious take on the classic dish, and absolutely delicious. Their steak tartar is one of my favorites n the city and the servers are all incredibly helpful, plus theres the added bonus that the atmosphere is so warm and cozy!

MLPaprzyca
tastemaker

The cocktails are inventive and the dishes French. These are very good things but be careful because the food is a bit heavy in the summer. I'd recommend going in the fall or winter.


The French Onion Fondue takes the part you don't care about in French Onions Soup, the broth, and leaves you with the onions and cheese to smear on fresh bread. I really enjoyed the richness of my Bone Marrow and all of the tastes and textures of the Cassoulet.


I'd recommend Maude's for dates or just a drink with a friend. It's not a great place for groups just because of the intimate setting.

Barbie B
tastemaker

Maybe I loved Maude's so much because the only time I've ever had shrimp cocktail was at my family's Christmas party but holy sh*t, I was in heaven!  I sat at the bar and had the greatest time chatting with the bartenders about Hogsalt hospitality group's signature drinks like a smasher that is available at most of their restaurants and things that set Maude's apart from Brendan Sodikoff's other locations.  As much as a foodie as I am, I had never had traditional escargot even after living in France!  You MUST order the vanilla bean creme brulee, when your friend gets up to use the bathroom, you will accidentally eat more than your share...  I will sadly have to say that instead of a 5 star rating I had to give them 4 because our oysters were still a bit dirty and the there were finger print all over the candle in the center of shellfish ice plate and those little details to me are important, especially when it comes to shellfish.