Nobody wants to be fancy and formal these days. Bowler hats and 27-piece suits for men died long ago, and who honestly knows the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork? Fancy and sophisticated hasn’t been cool. But Honey’s wants to change that, and it’s doing a good job.
Unlike most other things in the West Loop, Honey’s isn’t some big spectacle that’s loud and trendy and a party. It’s practically unmarked on Lake St. directly underneath the L, and it feels like you’re walking into an avoidable death scene from a bad scary movie. But once you get past the tiny waiting room and into the restaurant itself, that all changes.
Honey’s is split into two separate rooms, a bar in front that you walk through to get to the dining room in the back. The bar space is beautiful, including a high ceiling with a skylight that adds a sense of space. The dining room is smaller and quieter, but another skylight in here also makes it feel bigger than it is. It’s classy and sophisticated, but it’s also cool, and that’s tough to pull off all at once. Dress nicely, but relax, because even though the service is formal the atmosphere isn’t stuffy.
The food also matches the space - contemporary American with a bit of a Mediterranean influence, the kind of stuff you know is fishing for a Michelin star. It’s a traditional appetizer and entrée situation, so order a few starters to share and an entree for each person. A beef tartar appetizer is basic but adds flare with foie gras and crunch potato bits. The same thing can be seen in the entrees, like a pasta a la chitarra that both looks and tastes great with shaved truffles on top. Presentation is important, and many dishes are put together like a piece of art.
Everything at Honey’s is enjoyable, but also expensive. It’s why Honey’s fills a void and is pretty good without being a place you have to eat right this second. But you’ll like it for the right situation, so consider Honey’s for date night, a special occasion, or even a nice night out with parents or grandparents who will feel cool but not out of place. Quiet and sophisticated might not sound exciting, but Honey’s is different, and it’s an interesting place worth a try.
Never a bad idea to start with oysters. Have at it.
Roasted cauliflower with bread crumb and smoked giardiniera. Good, not great, and it looks more interesting than it tastes. The smoked giardiniera is the best part.
Beef tartar with a bit of truffle, foie gras, mushrooms, and a sherry reduction. Some crispy potato sticks on top also give it a nice bit of crunch. It’s a rich dish that’s not too big so you have just the right amount. Start with this.
A light and delicate plate of hamachi in a bright green cucumber sauce. Keep things fresh and citrusy.
A really great grilled caesar, probably because of the creamy egg yolk sabayon sauce. The pickled shallots and parmesan don’t hurt either, and overall it’s the perfect transition between appetizers and entrees.
This chestnut pasta a la chitarra with bitter greens, pecorino cheese, and a bit of black truffles is delicious. The exact ingredients often change, but there’s usually some sort of spaghetti a la chitarra dish on the menu that’s always good. You can order it in half or whole portions, which is nice, and we suggest getting some noodles on your table one way or another.
Another good pasta option. This cavatelli is heavier than the chitarra with a red sauce lamb ragu and ricotta cheese.
We’re not normally big pork chop people, but our waiter said this has been one of the only staples on the menu, so we gave it a go. Smart decision - thanks waiter. A great piece of meat with just the right amount of delicious white beans and escarole on the side.
If you’re not into meat and pasta, there are a couple of good fish entrees available too. We’re into this marinated sturgeon with vegetable panzanella and a charred tomato vinaigrette.