The restaurant's motto on the window - clearly, no subtext here.
Longman and Eagle (L&E) reminds me of X Games competitors like Shaun White – brazen, hipster and heedless of their own success. The restaurant / inn's motto, sketched on the front window, reads "Eat, Sleep, Whiskey." Michelin confirmed the restaurant's success with a one-star rating in 2010. The placement of the coveted Michelin plaque out of sight above the bar confirms their modesty. I'm most impressed, though, with this Logan Square restaurant's kitchen. They're able to deliver the service and quality of Tru or Schwa from a space hardly larger than a king-sized bed. And they have no qualms about serving Pabst Old Milwaukee.
L&E indexes towards pork. They source their Berkshire hogs from the same farm where I bought my Thanksgiving Day Turkey last year—the Slagel Family Farm. Chicago Magazine calls it a porkapolooza. Executive Chef Jared Wentworth explains, "Anyone can grill a steak or roast a chicken. But a pig can showcase your skills. And it's affordable. And it goes with any libation...It's a magic beast." Despite his passion for pork, my visiting friends and I dabbled among flora and fauna during dinner.
Our first dish was Welsh rarebit over a pretzel. The pretzel was a clever idea for rarebit because cheese sauce over bread usually turns soggy, even when toasted. The chewy pretzel bread astutely maintained its role as delivery vehicle for the melted cheese.
Next was the pan-roasted sepia (cuttlefish) with oxtail ragout. While I wouldn't consider this animal cuddly, it was certainly tasty. I enjoyed this dish mostly because I had never tried cuttlefish. It's of the cephalopod family (e.g. squid) so can easily turn rubbery if overcooked. L&E prepared the fish splendidly and the ragout added a gentle suggestion of spice and vibrant color.
After the sepia, we opted for a larger dish: the wild boar sloppy joe. This behemoth is served with crispy sage, brioche, beef fat fries, and my favorite accoutrement, pickled jalapeno. The L&E menu changes seasonally, if not daily, but the sloppy joe is a constant and truly anchors L&E's vision. We also tried the ricotta gnuddi with chanterelle mushrooms, which was fantastic. (To gno the difference between gnuddi and gnocchi, remember that gnuddi sounds like (and in Italian means) 'nude.' Thus, gnuddi is the naked cheese filling from ravioli while gnocchi is the flour or potato-based shell. Both are enjoyed in dumpling form.)
L&E is more than a restaurant. The Off Site Bar, located behind the inn, is a thirty-person space that functions as a stand-alone 'micro bar,' event space and tasting room, or can be expanded into a fuller indoor / outdoor space. On Saturdays, it's a sausage shop. On Sundays it's a donut shop. (On a recent Cooking Channel episode, head pastry chef Vincent Knittel prepared a miso, fennel seed and ground almond donut). And every day, it's a hotel—the six, Ethan Allan-esque rooms run from $100 to $200 per night. And if you're wondering what could possibly come after all of these innovations, Wentworth said: "Ducks. They're the second-most versatile animals on earth."