LOGAN SQUARE — Nearly four years after vegan restaurant and music venue Township closed, a restaurant fashioned after an old-school butcher shop is opening in its place.
Lardon, an eatery specializing in sandwiches, cheese boards and in-house cured meats, is set to open this week at 2200 N. California Ave. across from the California Blue Line station.
Starting Friday, the “all-day salumeria” will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, serving Metropolis Coffee and grab-and-go pastries from Aya Pastry in the morning and sandwiches, cheese boards and cured meats in the afternoon and evening. Dinner service will begin this summer.
Cured meat is the “heartbeat” of Lardon, which has a custom-built curing room, the owners said in a news release. It’s a process that requires patience, as meat can take up to one year to cure. But chef and co-owner Chris Thompson and co-owner Steve Lewis said the system is what sets Lardon apart from other restaurants in Chicago.
“There’s lots of great sandwich shops in Chicago, but they buy other people’s products and serve their products. We make everything that’s on the sandwich you have here,” Thompson said. “If it’s a cut of smoked turkey, we brine and smoke that turkey in house. If it’s salami, we butchered that salami from a pig, seasoned it with our spices.”
At Lardon, lunch options also include salads and to-go deli goods. Sandwiches include the Frenchie, made with house-cured ham, country pork pâté , camembert, mustard and cornichon mayo.
To drink, there’s an “eclectic” wine list, aperitivo-based cocktails, a wide selection of amari and locally made draft beer.
The hope is Blue Line commuters will grab a coffee or a sandwich before hopping on the train, or a cocktail and a cheese board before heading home for the night, Lewis said.
Lewis and Thompson aim to roll out dinner service in August with an eight-course menu featuring dishes like mussels aux Provencal with house-made ‘nduja, tomato, garlic and white wine.
Lewis bought the 110-year-old California Avenue building in 2019, about two years after Township closed.
He joined forces last year with Thompson, a former partner at Coda di Volpe in Lakeview, to start Lardon. Thompson was also the executive chef at A16 in San Francisco and helped launch The Nickel in Denver.
Like other restaurant projects, Lardon’s opening had to be pushed back because of the pandemic. But Lewis said the delays gave them time and space to “really get it right.” Over the past two years, the two have transformed the space into an “old-world salumeria” with exposed brick walls and original wood joists. They also built a 30-seat sidewalk cafe along Palmer Street.
Once open, Lardon will be the pair’s first restaurant under their newly formed Meadowlark Hospitality. Before Lardon, Lewis ran Centennial Crafted Beer + Eatery in River North. Lewis and Thompson live in Logan Square.
“There’s a ton of amazing restaurants [in Logan Square]; not a lot of them are open during the day,” Lewis said. “Being able to provide that outlet for people here with a good selection of offerings that are all made in house, with a thoughtful menu, is something we’re hoping the neighborhood welcomes with open arms.”
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