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"I actually like my pastrami a little more refined and thinly sliced," my lunch companion e-mailed me once we were back at our respective offices. "But no doubt this is great smoked meat." Well, de gustibus non est disputandem and all that—I liked it coarsely chopped—and I'd go so far as to call it the best* smoked meat I've had in town, many fine specimens of barbecue included. I also found the rye bread, from Red Hen, markedly fresh and just the right degree of soft, a nice change from many European-style ryes. I'm betting these sandwiches will hold their own even once the new neighbors move in.
Said newcomer being none other than Little Goat Bread, which is shooting for a May opening in the space to the right of Fumaré. An outpost of the cafe and bar adjacent to Stephanie Izard's Little Goat Diner, it will share the Randolph Street LGB's menu—sandwiches, soups, chili, baked goods, and Stumptown coffee—as well as offering Little Goat bread by the loaf. In March Izard told Crain's that she was inspired to look into the French Market location by the success of her friend Charlie McKenna's barbecue stand there, Lillie's Q. Late that same month a fire shut down Lillie's Wicker Park location, but the market stand is alive and well—and yet another smoked-meat source I need to try.
The addition of Little Goat Bread will make for a formidable lineup along the west wall of the French Market: on the other side of Fumaré is a thriving sandwich counter and deli from Pastoral, and at the northeast end is the Chicago location of Wisma, the carryout spot from chef John des Rosiers of Inovasi and Highland Park's Royce.
* Best commercially available smoked meat, that is.
Chicago French Market, 131 N. Clinton, frenchmarketchicago.com