Have you heard? There is a new holy ground for all meat lovers in Chicago. Indeed, we’re talking about Lardon, located at 2200 N California Ave, one of the latest addition to the Logan Square dining scene. Featuring freshly sourced, cured, and sliced meat, Lardon quickly gained its ground among the many restaurants in Logan Square with the undefeatable texture, flavor, and quality of their meat products.
Partnering with local farmers and utilizing whole animals instead of prepackaged meat, Lardon will impress your tastebuds with simple yet perfect food items. Ridding the unnecessary fanciness of the modern dining scene, the restaurant reconnects us with our food and prompts us to rethink our relationship with the ingredients being consumed.
Unlike any other meat-centered restaurants around, Lardon strictly uses the entire animal in their process. Through careful sourcing and dedicated communication, the restaurant has established a relationship with a local farmer who raises a particular type of pig each month and delivers them to the team as a whole.
“Being able to control what goes into the curing room and the consistency of the source is the first and foremost reason why we go with whole animals. It’s hard to tell the health of an animal looking at the meat out of a bag. All come as a side of pork and I can see the bruises or broken bones or how they were handled. It allows us a really fantastic control in quality and we can address that at the time of getting the animal,” Chef Thompson explained to us.
Additionally, utilizing whole animals is also the secret to why you will get the best deal on the highest quality meat only at Lardon. That’s because using a full animal reduces the amount of work needed to be done, and therefore reducing the cost the restaurant faces. In return, they are able to offer delicious items at a price affordable to ordinary diners like you and we.
Rejuvenating Chicago History
Inspired by old-school butcher shops, salumerias, and cafes across the globe, Lardon is breathing new life into Chicago’s meat processing history. From Civil War all the way through the 1920s, Chicago was the nation’s meat processing hub, known as the Hot Butcher of the World.
“I really like to expand people’s knowledge of a disappearing craft. The more people learn and add to their vocabulary, the more it increases the diner’s IQ. If I can educate people and not just feed them, it just makes my job easier as a chef. It makes the dining scene and the food culture scene better as a whole. Chicago’s great because there are all these educated and interested diners here,” said Chef Thompson.
Meanwhile, the restaurant is located in a historic building. The two-year restoration project preserved the majority of the original structure and decor, including the brick walls and the wooden joints. On the other hand, the restored honeycomb tiled floor pays tribute bygone era in classic Chicago design. Then, take into account the rustic interior, the light-filled space, the large meat slicer behind the counter… Step into Lardon is like stepping through time, and eating at Lardon is witnessing an old craft passed down from chef to chef reviving and evolving in a modern world with your tastebuds.
Featured Menu Items
We asked Chef Chris Thompson what he would recommend if he were a diner at Lardon, and here are the recommendations coming from the man himself!
- Coppa (Chef’s Favorite!): a beautiful expression of spice. The subtle taste focuses on the full flavor of high-quality pork, allowing the ingredient to be the star it deserves to be.
- Finocchiona: The licorice characteristics you get from the wild fennel are the biggest surprise with the Finocchiona. Pairing with big juicy red wines of the salami, the Finocchiona is a dance between lightness and richness, texture and flavor, and will completely sweep your tastebuds off their feet.
- ‘Nduja: Instead of using bits of fat and bits of lean from the pig, Lardon’s ‘Nduja is made using entirely out of pork belly. The team let mother nature do the ratio instead of setting one themselves. The dish also uses unique house spices made from peppers team Lardon grounds down right there in the restaurant. Chef Thompson first came across these pepper during his days in California, then went all the way to Italy to seek it out.
- Saucission de Campagne: The recipe came from a 1970s meat curing book, a French cookbook translated to English in the 70s. Then, Chef Thompson adjusted the recipe and this is the first time he’s making the Saucission de Campagne at Lardon. Instead of relying on wine and garlic, Lardon’s version toned down the acidity by removing wine completely from the recipe, while relying on the fermentation alone for a milder, yet still distinguishable acidity.
The Best Time to Visit is… Work Time!
We’ve talked so much about Lardon’s process, so, you’ve probably guessed what the best time to visit is. But we have to say it out loud — come during work time, that is, when the team is actively prepping the meat and the spices! Lardon features a brilliant glass wall, which allows you to witness how the meat hangs, fermentates, and dries as time go by.
“It’s not just gross chunks of meat lying on the butcher’s table,” said Chef Thompson. And as we witness the process with our own eyes, we’ve got to say: you’re missing out if you don’t see the process live.
Every Wednesday at noon, the restaurant receives 400 lbs of meat. Then, the team begins to tie coppas and hang everything in the curing rooms. And Thursdays are when the team season, grind and stuff and load the proofing cabinets for the fermentation of the salami and do the final spice rubs on the coppas. Therefore, come in on an afternoon or evening, sit down, order a board, and really take your time at Lardon. If you have any questions, ask away! Becasue the team will gladly demystify their process for you.
Did You Say… DIY Charcuterie Board?
So, if you haven’t had the delight to try some of Lardon’s best cuts, you will have the perfect chance this holiday season.
This year, lardon is offering two different boards for parties: one board that serves 4-6 people, and a larger board designed to serve 8+ people. First time assembling a charcuterie board? No worries because Chef Chris Thompson has prepared a sweet little video guide to help you wow your guests.
Even if you’ve never been into charcuterie up till now, don’t deny yourself the possibility. Like Chef Thompson said: “lend yourself to the experience and trust your server and let them guide you through the wines and the meat selections. Sometimes the wine leads, but sometimes the meat leads. There’s no wrong answer and it’s sometimes picking things that go along with each other.”
Pre-sale tickets are now available on Tock. Orders can be placed and will be ready for pick up weekly.
Featured Image Credit: UrbanMatter Chicago