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Real Kitchen Bringing Take-Out Cooked by Michelin Chef to Lakeview

By Serena Dai | May 6, 2014 7:27am
 Real Kitchen Chicago is opening a Lakeview location at 3301 N. Sheffield Ave.
Real Kitchen Chicago
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LAKEVIEW — The chefs at a planned new Lakeview cafe used to work at top-dollar places like Charlie Trotter's and North Pond.

But instead of an expensive sit-down meal, Real Kitchen Chicago serves sandwiches, salads and cold entrees — which people take home to heat up and eat.

Now the Uptown cafe and take-out spot, open since 2011, plans to take the idea to Lakeview, 3301 N. Sheffield Ave.

"It's the kind of stuff your mom would make, or you would make if you had the day off," said Nick Schmuck, executive chef and owner of Real Kitchen and a Charlie Trotter alum.

"People don't have time to cook. It's for people who want to eat good quality food during the week at a pretty reasonable price."

That means much of the food from the rotating menu — with items like a bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($9.25) and roasted summer vegetables with lemon and oregano ($3.50) — isn't eaten at the restaurant.

It's for "grab and go," Schmuck said.

All the entrees will be made fresh daily in the Uptown kitchen and be delivered to Lakeview. Hot sandwiches, like a pork belly BLT with avocado, roasted tomato and baby arugula ($7), will be made on site and can be eaten at the shop.

The Sheffield and School location will be offering a couple of bonuses that Uptown doesn't have.

A patio that seats about 25 people will be open for "low-key" Saturday and Sunday brunches, with quiches, breakfast sandwiches and BYOB for bloody marys and mimosas, Schmuck said.

The younger crowd in the area is perfect for a "boozy brunch," Schmuck said.

The Lakeview location also will house vertical, grocery-style coolers so that people can more easily pop in and out, he said.

"We're a business of convenience," he said.

Schmuck is aiming for a mid-June opening and hopes to eventually open locations throughout the city and suburbs.

He may not be working in a Michelin-star restaurant anymore, but running Real Kitchen has been "great" and "rewarding" in a more personal way, Schmuck said.

"You get into cooking because you love the personal connection with people and the power of food to gather people you care about at the table," he said.

"You lose that sometimes in the fine-dining restaurants. It's good to get back to cooking food you ate growing up and fell in love with in the first place."

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