Ready to heat things up for the summer? KICK Restaurant (CLOSED), located in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood, recently opened with a bold culinary approach that incorporates heat, spice and fire by Chef Tim Lavelle.
KICK is located at 1943 W. Byron Street (just south of Irving Park, between Damen and Lincoln). The menu features a fusion of spicy flavors (garlic, ginger, wasabi, cumin, garam masala, hot mustard, cayenne, cilantro) combined into intriguing dishes. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch and al fresco dining is available on their block-long patio.
I was recently invited to bring a guest to sample the heat at KICK. I tend to avoid spicy-hot foods, but I was assured that they can accommodate most levels of spiciness with many of the dishes. Luckily, that is true! Nothing I tried was overly hot for me, but I know certainly that if you love spicy hot food, this is the place for you . . . and you can bring your timid friends (like me). Just a quick disclaimer – not everything can be adjusted for heat, so ask your server carefully.
The beverage program is designed to pair with KICK’s bold flavors, partnering a simplified approach with premium products although a few of the drinks do incorporate the concept of bold heat. For instance, check out the KICK’n and Scream’n (El Destilador Blanco Tequila, Chile De Arbol-Infused Honey, Lime, Ginger Beer) or the Sultan of Spice (El Destilador Reposado, Red Chili Pepper, Grapefruit, Egg White, Lime).
On my visit, we sampled the following:
- KICK pickles (corn flour battered spears, champagne Dijon mustard) – The batter on these was reminiscent of tempura batter to me, crispy and flavorful without any dough to get in the way. The pickles are whole, fried spears (not slices). The mustard is a bit on the spicy side, so use with caution.
- Steak Tartare (NY strip, capers, shallots, signature aioli, crostini) – Whenever I see this on a menu I always order it. This one was superb – slightly hot but just enough to give is a kick (sorry for the pun). The crostini was fresh and delightfully crunchy.
- NOLA Blackened Mahi (rainbow Swiss chard, dirty rice, Cajun tomato sauce) – I often find Mahi to be boring, but this preparation was anything but that. The combination of bitter chard with the savory sauce was a great complement to the blackened Mahi. This was definitely on the lighter side of spice.
- Peruvian Lomo Saltado (garlic-soy marinated ribeye, tomatoes, onions, vinegar, FireFries, rice) – Think poutine over rice and you will get a hint of this one. This dish was certainly hot, but the combination of vinegar and rice mediated the heat perfectly for me. If you’re a fan of poutine, then you will love this inventive take on that concept.
I was intrigued by a few other items on the menu, including the Southern Hot Fried Chicken (cayenne glaze, mashed potatoes, collard greens, house buttermilk biscuit) and the Pit Fire Burger (1/2 pound, 100% Wagyu beef, house-cured pork belly, smoked tomato BBQ glaze). I will definitely go back to sample those as well as some of the tasty-sounding desserts such as Smoldering Chocolate Cake (cayenne chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis, raspberry leather, cocoa nibs) and Pillow Talk (cherry cream napoleon, white chocolate ganache, almond powder, candied black sesame seeds, brandied cherries).