Hours: Lunch, dinner: seven days
Saturday & Sunday brunch
Open late: Saturday till 3, Thursday-Friday till 2, Sunday-Wednesday till midnight
CLOSED. Upscale gastropub with fare that spans the central time zone.
There's a lot going on—from tacos to pierogi, poutine to fried alligator—on Central Standard's sprawling menu. But I guess that's the point, because there's also a lot going on foodwise in the central standard time zone, the namesake and inspiration for this River North enterprise from Bar Louie founder Roger Greenfield. In an attempt to create a less schizophrenic dining experience, my companion and I restricted our choices to the southeastern reaches, starting with the surprisingly delicate and massively portioned house bacon, glazed with apricot and ancho chile and served with fava beans and roasted cippolinis. The Central Standard Board—a list of 28 spreads, meats, cheeses, relishes, jams, and pickled stuff from which to pick a selection—was a bargain at $15 for six, with standouts the chicken foie gras mousse and the Indianapolis-made Smoking Goose Gin & Juice lamb salami. Entrees are split into two categories, "from the fisherman" and "from the farmer," and while overpoweringly salty shrimp and grits fell flat, grilled duck breast was a knockout, perfectly seared medallions of breast atop a jumble of rich, shredded confit leg, with snappy mustard greens and a sweet-and-sour kumquat demi-glace. Close your eyes and you just might be in New Orleans. Or—given the restaurant's clubby decor and the glow of its flat-screen TVs—Birmingham, at least. Read the full review >>
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On its website, Central Standard is described as "a journey across an entire time zone" to "destinations from the North Woods to the Deep South." But no amount of recycled barn wood and honeyed lighting can overcome the restaurant's clubby decor and the glow of its flat-screen TVs, which is to say that you won't particularly feel like you've journeyed anywhere. Still, dishes like the house bacon, two slabs of delectable, barely cured pork, pair well with specialty drinks such as the Southern Breakfast, a stiff bourbon cocktail with candied bacon, blackberries, maple syrup, and ginger beer. Close your eyes and you might at least be in Birmingham. —Mara Shalhoup