The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Red Canary: One Saucy Bird

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Jun 18, 2012 9:00PM

There’s something slightly risqué about the Red Canary. If there weren’t, this provocative West Town gastro-lounge would more than likely drop the “red” altogether and simply call itself the Canary. Which would be hopelessly banal, because the Red Canary could not be less concerned with feeding you flavonoids and chirpily lengthening your life span, as we assume plain old yellow canaries would be. To the contrary, this slick seal of a one-night stand just wants to ruffle your feathers. It likes seeing you hot, a little bothered, and fully sated on distinctively naughty Southern cuisine. A reincarnation of Prohibition-era prodigality, the Red Canary caters to skin-bearing sirens willing to linger over an indecent quantity of vintage libations, a fact that laid the groundwork for an intriguing early weekend brunch.

The iniquitous Jazz Age vibe of the space and the wholesome American comfort food dominating the menu make for odd, if agreeable, bedfellows. The brunch repast is decidedly Southern inspired, meaning it’s heavy on pretty much everything that goes down heavily. Perusing the menu, which was divided into plates that come with skillet potatoes, pancakes and waffles, and a la carte items the likes of chorizo chilaquiles, it was immediately evident that we had no choice but to order something voluptuously draped in either syrup or egg yolk. Excess, however, is just how the Red Canary rolls. There’s even an $18 bottomless mimosa in the offing, which we failed to avail ourselves of (we know—for shame, right?). So if you’re not prepared to loosen your belt and enjoy every hedonistic mouthful, you’d best find a canary of a different color.

We ordered the aptly named Southern, made up of two cheddar biscuits and fennel sausage gravy and costing a reasonable $10, and our dining partner feasted upon the canary benedict, with poached eggs, steak, a cheddar biscuit, and béarnaise sauce for $12. Both proved satisfying in a relentlessly gluttonous fashion, pulling us further into the cracks of the sumptuous satin cushions and leaving us utterly incapable of attempting any approximation of the Charleston within the next 24 hours. There was no alternative but to continue lounging, which is this gastro-lounge’s métier, after all. The decadent space alone—including its 2,000-square-foot beer garden—affords opportunity for indulgence rarely glimpsed en masse since the flapper era. So give the gams the fishnet treatment, dust off the fedora, or commence whatever preparations prove necessary for an unhurried surrender to something seductively sinful. The Red Canary coyly awaits.

The Red Canary is located at 695 N. Milwaukee Ave.