Hours: Breakfast, lunch: Sunday, Wednesday-Saturday
Closed Monday, Tuesday
Anne Kostroski (Crumb Chicago) and Mike Bancroft (Co-Op Sauce) pool their efforts at this storefront cafe.
Sauce has been very good to Mike Bancroft, mad scientist of the hot-sauce arts, and to Co-op Image, the youth arts-education center he founded. Today his Co-op Sauce is an independent business, with a full line of sauces as well as vinegars, salsa, barbecue sauces, and pickles, all produced with a bounty of locally grown produce. And Bancroft has moved operations out of the cramped west-side arts center and into a dedicated kitchen in Rogers Park that he shares with baker (and girlfriend) Anne Kostrowski of Crumb Chicago. In the front of the house is this cafe, featuring a handful of sandwiches, a salad, coffee, sodas, and a selection of Kostrowki's baked goods, including the "bread board," a choose-your-own sampler of breads and spreads. It's her breads, in fact, that advance the rotating roster of sandwiches into destination worthiness. "Hoagies" are built on demi baguettes that might sandwich roasted eggplant with pimento cheese, pickled fennel, and radicchio marmalade, or thick slices of smoked turkey, house-made bacon, feta, and chowchow, the last brightened by guajillo and tamarind. The thick, buttered slabs of semolina boule that clad the grilled cheese—made with pimento spread, Chihuahua cheese, and mint-walnut pesto—haunt my dreams. Naturally, you can accent them with any number of Bancoft's sauces—I'm particularly keen on the newer Brass Monkey, a homage to banana ketchup spiked with chocolate habaneros and red jalapeños. Read more >>
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