Cheat Sheet: Leghorn Chicken in Ukrainian Village
The Gist: Element Collective’s highly anticipated, socially conscious chicken shack that has been in the making for nearly two years finally opens today with a fried chicken-centric menu available daily at 11 AM until it sells out.
The Vibe: Announced during the famous Chick-Fil-A controversy of 2012, Leghorn aims to be the anti-chain chicken shop with a mantra that boasts “We are open all day Sunday. We proudly and enthusiastically champion gay rights; 2% of our gross profit is donated to organizations that support gay rights. We solely support local and sustainable farmers and artisans. Duh. We offer Leghorn branded birth control free at the counter.” The result is a well-designed chicken restaurant with hand-laid wood floors, reclaimed wood tables and metal pipe rails separating the counter-service entryway from the small seating area.
The Crowd: Hipsters and worshipers of the trendy chicken craze, who line up to try the new bird in town.
Eat This: Fried chicken is presented via a mix and match menu of breasts and thighs, Nashville hot or pickle brined and on a buttermilk biscuit or housemade bun. The winning combination is pickle-brined breast - with a thin, crispy coating that protects the flavorful and moist interior mirroring the flavor of the house dill pickles it’s served with - on a biscuit with a generous dusting of hot sauce and side of hand-cut nori fries.
Drink This: The fresh lemon shake-up is the closest thing to fairground lemonade available in the dead of winter. It’s made with lemon simple syrup that is shaken with half a lemon, water and ice.
Skip This: Green chili hush puppies. Although it’s one of the more interesting sounding sides among the selection of local Yukon gold potato salad and shaved vegetable slaw, the Iroquois cornmeal fritters dotted with diced chilies are dry and surprisingly bland.
The Damage: It’s easy to fill up on a sandwich, side and a drink for less that $15. All entrees, including the grilled chicken bowl and limited availability chicken tenders cost $8.
The Verdict: Chef Jared Van Camp and crew are quickly accelerating into a steady Chicago restaurant empire, with each opening (Kinmont opened just a month ago) more consistent, in terms of food quality and decor, than the last. Leghorn is a welcomed addition to Western Ave.
959 N. Western Ave.; 773-394-4444