Okay, a mea culpa: TeaGschwendner, a candidate for the least intuitively pronounceable restaurant name in Chicago, isn’t really new at all - but it’s taken us all this time to get their menu, and since it’s not on their website, we consider it a victory, and because it’s the only menu in Chicago that we know of with suggested tea pairings, we think it’s worthy of your attention.
But first, let’s talk about Honky Tonk. Once a peripatetic wagon that catered parties and neighborhood events, chef-owner Willy Wagner evidently got enough positive feedback to decide to settle down in Pilsen, where Honky Tonk has been open for a few weeks. Monica Eng reported on her opening night experience last week, and quite enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich ($6.50) and baby back ribs ($11/half, $18/full). The vibe is down-home hipster (is that what Austin’s like?), which shows in the dinner item entitled “What Your Girlfriend Wants.” If that’s the answer, then the question is, what are mesclun greens with jicama matchsticks, Michigan blueberries, walnuts and goat cheese for $8, Alex. Three things:
1) The source menu used “mesculin” instead of “mesclun.” Apparently, the former is the Latin derivation and the latter is the French. We prefer the latter, to better differentiate from mescaline
2) Wow, that’s really sexist and heteronormative. All of our girlfriends are pissed.
3) Ms. Eng thought the salad was underdressed, but otherwise tasty.
But don’t let the wording on that single menu item deter you; this seems like a great addition to the neighborhood.
Okay, now for TeaGuh…TeaGish…whatever, you know what we’re talking about. TeaGschwendner, on Halsted, is a tea shop of German origin (duh) that now serves a fairly substantial cafe menu. As we said, its main distinctive feature is that is suggests tea pairings for each item, in addition to incorporating tea into many of the dishes. For example, the marinated chicken wrap comes in two versions: spicy (Lapsang-marinated chicken breast, romaine, tomato, red onion, smoked gouda cheese and chipotle mayo wrapped in a spinach tortilla, served with terra chips) and apple (Lapsang-marinated chicken breast, tomato, romaine, apple, bacon, brie cheese and apple tea vinaigrette wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, also served with terra chips). Each one is $8, and can be paired with 1302 rooibush (herbal), 153 assam hattaialli (black), or 1500 magic flute (fruit). We imagine the numbers correspond to some sort of internal cataloging system, but regardless of whether these choices even make any sense, we’re impressed that they’re proffered at all. Good job intriguing us, TeaGschwendner!
[Photo: an adorable logo if we’ve ever seen one, Honky Tonk]