There are very few chefs who can walk into a restaurant, conceptualize and execute something twenty minutes before service and produce a knock out dish. Chef Scott Schulman is one of those people and that is exactly what happened the first time I dined at Homestead on the Roof. I became acquainted with Chef Scott’s cooking style a few years ago when he was the head chef at Cantina 1910. Since then, he has taken the reigns at Homestead on the Roof and I think he has found a home. The rustic ambiance of the restaurant marries perfectly with Schulman’s refined home-style cooking to produce a truly mesmerizing dining experience in the up and coming West Town neighborhood.
True to its name, Homestead on the Roof is just that – a homey restaurant surrounded by a 3,000 square foot urban rooftop farm. This is farm-to-table in its most literal sense. The menu and its ingredients fluctuate depending upon what is in season, many of which are grown right next to diners on the 85-seat outdoor patio. When the patio is not in season, guests can dine inside the cozy and welcoming 65-seat indoor space. Tucked away above Roots Handmade Pizza, it feels like you are discovering a marvelous secret when you open the door. Little do you know, the most extraordinary part happens not when you enter the space, but when you take your first bite.
The bread is made fresh daily and the varieties served depend on the chef’s selection. It is only made in small batches to maintain its quality, flavor and authenticity. You won’t find this in the bakery next door – it is exclusive to the restaurant.
The gazpacho is a celebration of summer flavors. Made with lemongrass, honeydew, cucumber, shiso and jalapeño, its delicate presentation is a beautiful prologue to the robust flavors inside. This gazpacho has a subtle punch of heat that sets it apart.
An abundance of crispy roasted heirloom carrots are intertwined with pieces of tempura-crusted smelt. Hints of citrus lend their hand in creating an unforgettable appetizer flavored with curry. I recommend washing it down with the B.A.E. cocktail which is made with homemade basil tonic, aquavit and elderflower – this drink houses a special secret, be sure to ask the bartender.
Do you recall that knockout dish I mentioned earlier? Pay attention, this is it. The foie gras is a play on French toast and is hands down the best thing I have consumed all year. On this revolutionary plate, pan seared foie gras is served on top of homemade bread accompanied by bacon jam, pineapple and cooked grape juice. As it melts in your mouth you may find yourself wondering if you should cry, smile or stand up in the middle of the restaurant and applaud the chef. In my book, it is acceptable to do all three.
The pork belly is like chocolate covered bacon but so much better. Sliced pork belly sits in a generous helping of chocolate mole, atop a delicious portion of crispy quinoa. This decadently satisfying dish is something I will never forget for both its soporific taste and its textures. It was almost satisfying enough to skip dessert…almost.
There is a special place in your stomach for dessert and the chocolate ganache cake belongs in that space. Adorned with chocolate tuiles and a side of beet and buttermilk sherbert, don’t bother sharing because you’ll want this one all for yourself.
Homestead on the Roof is a hidden gem and Chef Scott Schulman brings his passion to the plate over and over again. Every meal is approachable, polished and brings a level of uniqueness to the Chicago dining scene.
1924 West Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
Featured Photo by IMR