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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SAVOR Doc B's; The Dandy Crown
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-02-17

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I first had a taste of the offerings at the River North location of Doc B's Restaurant + Bar ( 55 E. Grand Ave.; DocBsRestaurant.com ) last year during a tour of restaurants at The Shops at North Bridge—and I remember being taken with several of the items.

I revisited this spot recently, and came away even more impressed with the variety and taste of the items—as well as service I won't soon forget.

First, here's some background information on the restaurant itself: Craig Bernstein founded the chain ( as there is a spot in the Gold Coast area of Chicago as well as in Texas and Florida ) in 2013 in Chicago ( at the River North place ). He named it after his father, a physician who passed away because of a brain tumor. No two locations are alike, with even the ones in this city being very different from one another in terms of everything from decor to menu items ( marked "Very Special Entrees" ) to waitstaff attire.

The cuisine looks quite appealing from the start, although there is the caveat: the prices are pretty reflective of other restaurants in the area. ( For example, salads are $14-$23 each, so be forewarned. ) However, there's no denying that practically everything my friend and I tried was quite satisfying, at the very least.

Starting with drinks, I tried the "Beet"lejuice, which I could've had all day. It's a heady mix of gin, organic beet juice, mint and lemon—probably the most healthful cocktail I've ever had.

The meal started with California-style kale-and-artichoke dip—certainly a step above the standard dip one might try, although the tortilla chips were even better. My guest then had the tangled noodle salad and the "hot" chicken—a tasty concoction definitely for those who like heat, as the bird is habanero-honey glazed, although it comes with soothing cole slaw. I opted for the Knife and Fork Cobb—a nice mix of crispy chicken with field greens, bacon, egg, avocado and Danish Blue cheese—as well as a crispy chicken sandwich that came with sweet-potato fries. ( Yes, I was on a "crispy chicken" kick that day—but it was beautifully cooked in both cases. )

Doc B's, incidentally, has an amazing selection of sandwiches and burgers. There's also a "Wok Out Bowl" I intend on trying soon; it's served with market vegetables and chopped cashews, with various proteins, sauces and bases ( brown rice, quinoa and lo mein ) available. Tantalizing desserts are also here, including a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cheesecake and a tres leches cake.

But there's the chocolate cake. Yes, it's decadent beyond measure, but ( at least this month ) there's an added reason to purchase it: Five dollars from each purchase will be donated to the American Brain Tumor Association, with a goal of $20,000—in memory of the original Doc B—allowing diners to put a philanthropic spin on what should prove to be an enjoyable culinary experience.

As for the previously mentioned service, it was courtesy of the attentive and talented Laura ( who my guest and I called "Aunt Laura," as she told she recently became an aunt ). I say "talented" because she's a classically trainer vocalist—and treated us to "lunch theater" as she gave us a wicked snippet of the Peggy Lee song "Fever."

The Dandy Crown

The Dandy Crown ( 694 N. Milwaukee Ave.; TheDandyCrown.com ) is a new-is cocktail-focused neighborhood bar in the city's River West neighborhood.

And when I say "cocktail-focused," I mean there are ( currently ) no culinary items to be found—although General Manager/bartender Sarah Syman said it is "BYOE," or "bring your own eats," as I call it, until late March ( when the license is expected to come through ).

In the meantime, Syman has assembled a very nice selection of cocktails ( classics called "Old Friends" and contemporary takes called "New Friends" ) that people can enjoy in some very cozy surroundings. ( The Dandy Crown is nestled in a stand-alone, two-story vintage brick building. The first floor features a fireplace lounge surrounded by mid-century modern, comfortable chairs and couches, while the second floor offers overflow and private party space, with another full bar. )

I started the evening with a Nice and Easy, described as a take on the drink the Sherry Cobbler, with a sherry blend, passionfruit and amaro—and it's absolutely delightful. My friend liked the daiquiri—a drink that gets that "old" label but is nonetheless delicious, thanks to a heady mix of rum, lime and cinnamon syrup. She then had a traditional Moscow Mule ( sans copper cup ) that she found refreshing, but then hit a bump in the road with Boots in the Snow, which contains vodka and fino as well as a pine garnish. ( It pretty much smells like Christmas. ) There were hints of chocolate, but she found it tasted too much like club soda, which she dislikes.

Thankfully, my friend found her footing with Bend My Way, a sprightly melange of gin, aperitif wine, peach and yuzu. I finally had my second drink ( and wrapped up things ) with the fittingly named One for the Road, which contains aged rum, scotch, raspberry and amaro—and is definitely made for sipping.

Dandy Crown is warm, like an old friend—and the pleasing drinks found here will undoubtedly make you warmer.

Note: Profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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