Now Open: Dillman's Trendy Deli

By Sarah Freeman  |  August 2, 2013

Brendan Sodikoff’s latest venture, Dillman’s, is a Jewish deli in River North by the name of Dillman’s. It feels like a hybrid of all of Sodikoff's previous concepts - the exposed brick and crystal chandeliers of Gilt Bar, the over-stuffed booths of Bavette’s and the heavily salted comfort cuisine of Au Cheval. It also retains the black-and-white tile floor of Steve’s Deli, the space's previous tenant. According to the burgundy and beige menus, it's an “Old World Delicatessen,” and everything from the housemade bagels in the morning to the beef short-rib borscht at night suggests this is true.

The menu indeed takes a cue from New York-style delis, but is infused with modern trends. Think lox and whitefish terrine. During the morning (it opens at 7 AM), Dillman’s serves bagels made in-house with an assortment of schmears such as chicken liver or warm goat cheese. Lunch sandwiches encourage sharing; piled high with house-cure corned beef or Russian-style tongue. Dinner, served after 5 PM, offers a wide array of items from simple chicken potpie to extravagant prime boneless rib-eye. There is also a separate gluten-free menu with signature items such as latkes with sour cream and applesauce.

For drinks, there are two options: strong ones and light ones. On the strong side is a bourbon, grapefruit and honey drink called Brown Derby, as well as classics like the Negroni and Old Fashioned. Light drinks cover the Vodka Fizz, Pimm’s Cup and Cocchi Mimosa made with Cocchi Americano, grapefruit juice and prosecco. The bar also serves wine and beer in addition to specialty coffee drinks. Don’t forget dessert with ranges from tradition cheese blintz to lemon meringue pie.

Walk into the Hubbard Street space, and you'll immediately see a wood with a vintage red espresso machine. Behind the bar is an L-shaped brown velvet booth with two-tops that overlook the service bar and antique cabinets. Around the corner is a communal table and lounge filled with mismatched plush furniture likely salvaged from Sodikoff’s grandmother’s basement, as well as books and board games. On the other side of a frosted glass partition is additional seating at red leather booths and tables.

Despite the restaurant's non-flashy opening, the crowds have already found it. Get there soon to see if it lives up to the high expectations set by Jewish grandmothers.

354 W. Hubbard St.; 312-988-0078; open 7 AM till midnight