WEST TOWN — UpperCrust Bakery's restaurant side has been given a makeover with a fresh coat of paint, an updated menu that includes house-cured meats and a summer grilling series.
A few months ago, the family-owned bakery hired consulting chef Brian Furey, who revamped the place by swapping out much of the pre-packaged deli meats in favor of cuts that are now roasted, cured and smoked in-house at 1332 W. Grand Ave.
Furey knew that UpperCrust's soups and sammies were go-tos for loyal regulars of the 2-year-old breakfast and lunch spot, so he made sure to keep favorites around, like the Jimmy chicken sandwich, named for co-owner Jimmy Spentzos, among others.
But now the cafe's classics include cured bacon, roasted beef, pastrami and more from purveyors across the Midwest, Furey said. The meat goes on artisan bread from the bakery, which makes wholesale loaves for restaurants all over the city.
The business, operated by Spentzos' daughters, started as a bakery about four years ago before adding a cafe.
Furey said reception to the new items has been warm, to put it lightly.
"People come in, and I just lift up a giant hunk of steaming meat and say 'This is on a sandwich today,' — they don’t even want to hear a description of the sandwich," he said.
A big part of the new menu is the specials, which has included items such as fresh lamb for Easter and fresh ribs for grilling.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during the summer, when weather permits, he grills on the patio .
Before April, when the makeover started, UpperCrust's menu was still a hit among fans when it was made with high-quality deli meat, he said. But Furey, a West Town resident who has worked as a consulting chef for about two years, said he wanted to help the place "keep things exciting."
Furey also roasts tomatoes on a smoker and whips up his own tomato mayo in addition to homemade tzatziki, Greek yogurt and kimchi.
"I’m making the seasonal foods that I want for myself and my family's table, and I'm making it available to the public," he said.
But Furey wants to make sure no vegetarians are scared off. The menu also includes a number of meat-free options, including grilled cheese, veggie sandwiches and salads.
"We want to take care of everybody," he said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: