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AMK Kitchen Bar, Modern Comfort Food, Plans June 5 Bucktown Debut

By Alisa Hauser | May 19, 2015 9:15am

Steven Tsonis, owner of AMK Kitchen Bar, at Damen and Armitage avenues [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

BUCKTOWN — A changing corner that has seen a new Japanese eatery and a juice bar will soon be welcoming an American restaurant and bar offering "modern comfort food" like cheeseburgers topped with fried pickles and a "pie" made with an open-faced bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Though AMK Kitchen Bar had first hoped to open in April, owner Steven Tsonis said on Monday that he and a staff of 32 are planning to open the new spot at 1954 W. Armitage Ave. on June 5.

Chef Barney Smith's menu includes braised short rib in black stout, pot pies with duck fat crust, buttermilk fried chicken, bourbon glazed salmon and cheeseburgers.

The "AMK Burger," made with two four-ounce beef patties topped with white American cheese, horseradish dijonnaise, and fried pickles on a buttered brioche bun. [Heather Marszalek/AMK Kitchen Bar]

(l.) A Garter Girl cocktail with Death Door vodka, vanilla, strawberry and egg whites, and a Dorito Pie, made with sausage and beef brisket, fresh and dried chilies, red beans, cheese, jalapenos, red onions and sour cream over a an open-faced bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. [Heather Marszalek/AMK KItchen bar]

A wood-fired oven will be used for making pizzas, such as wild mushroom, kale and artichoke, pepperoni and sausage.

On the lighter side — or for vegetarians —  there is a roasted beet and grilled watermelon salad as well as Brussels sprouts with lime dressing and crispy shallots.

To wash everything down, there are 56 craft beers, 16 of which are on draft and 15 cocktails, mainly whiskey and bourbon-based.

Alisa Hauser says the area has undergone some positive changes:

The 70-seat eatery,  previously shuttered for several years, features exposed brick walls, cozy maroon booths, black and white tiled floors and a garage-like front window that opens to let the breeze in.

Most of the seating in the 1,600-square-foot space is at booths for two or four patrons with two larger end booths for bigger parties of up to seven people.  There are several stools along the bar too.

Murals by artist Jay Turner display a likeness to "Uncle Sam" along with an American dollar bill. However, the face of the bill is a goat, representing Bucktown's unofficial mascot, tracing its days to when working class Poles raised goats in their yards.

Tsonis, a West Town resident, grew up in the restaurant business, getting his start by washing dishes at his father's steakhouses and bistros in the southwest suburbs.

For his first solo venture, Tsonis said he searched far and wide for the perfect spot. 

"Bucktown is a hot and trendy neighborhood, and it is just going to keep getting better," Tsonis said. 

During the six-month-long build out, Bucktown residents have been peering into the window and asking him questions, Tsonis said.

"We are excited people in the neighborhood are responding so well.  Now that they know the concept, they are telling us they see the need for us being here," Tsonis said.

AMK Kitchen Bar, 1954 W. Armitage Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday- Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.  Ph: 773-276-4400.  For updates, visit the restaurant's Facebook page.


AMK Dinner Menu by chef Barney Smith

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