I remember one time back in my youth, when I was working as a waiter at a fine dining restaurant, this couple with a young child came in to eat and requested "extra" parmesan cheese. I gladly obliged. Big mistake! It turns out that the parmesan was for their child to not only eat but to redecorate the restaurant with. My section looked like a decorative snow globe.
Why am I bringing up this traumatic (well, for a single guy in his twenties, anyway) experience? Because the thought of my son trashing a fine dining restaurant has kept me up at nights. But thanks to a new addition in Uptown, that problem has been solved.
The Real Kitchen at Clark and Montrose combines great food, affordability with a little tease of some of the finer things in life all set up for you to take home and enjoy with your family.
Real Kitchen's website says it's a "to-go mini delivery cafe," but its genius is that they do all the work of the food preparation, pack it, sack it and send it home with you to warm up. All you have to do it wait for the smile on your kid's face. Real Kitchen prides itself on its fresh ingredients and "home cooking" mentality.
We decided to try a few things and split up a little on each of our plates. The family that shares cares, am I right? First we had an awesome chicken cacciatore. When I say "awesome" I mean it was so good I almost threw the whole "sharing" thing out the window and muscled in on my son's plate. The one thing I would say is that do watch out because this dish has a few legs in it, so while plating it you are going to want to debone them. The meat is so tender it just falls off with little work.
Next we dismantled a bacon-wrapped meatloaf. They had me at bacon. You could wrap a shoe in bacon and I would eat it. We grabbed a side of glazed peas and carrots as well, and my son actually ate a vegetable. Victory! This was a perfect sized meal, healthy, fresh, and most important, local -for just over $20.
The Real Kitchens menu changes every few days. Along with their entrees and sides they also offer soups, sandwiches, desserts, meats, cheeses, and a healthy array of pantry items. Real Kitchen also offers a catering service.
Real Kitchen is located at 1433 W. Montrose, Chicago, realkitchenchicago.com
Ryan lives in Uptown with his wife, Pascale, and 5-year-old son, Leo, and works in Chicago as an actor and on-air host.
See more of Ryan's stories here.