Chicago's Big Jones Closing for Comprehensive Kitchen Renovations
Approaching its 10-year anniversary this April, Big Jones announced Big Jones 2.0, the next phase of Chicago’s home for historically inspired southern cuisine. The first step of Big Jones 2.0 took place in the summer of 2017, when the neighborhood staple underwent an exterior storefront renovation, bringing southern charm to the Clark Street entrance. Recently Executive Chef and Co-Owner Paul Fehribach has been honored as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes for the sixth year in a row, while Big Jones was named one of “The Midwest’s 30 Essential Restaurants” by Eater National and one of the “10 Best Restaurants in Chicago” by Jetsetter.
On Monday, March 5, the restaurant closes for comprehensive kitchen renovations and dining room enhancements transforming the space with an open kitchen concept, giving diners a first-hand look at the thoughtful preparation of each dish. The overhaul also allows for the expansion of the restaurant’s in-house bakery and the addition of a “Biscuit Bar” for guests to enjoy the baked goods to the fullest extent. The renovations bring in state-of-the-art kitchen equipment and cutting-edge technology to further enhance Big Jones’ dedication to heirloom receipts, transforming the way Chef Fehribach cooks, while maintaining his approach of using compelling ingredients that convey a sense of time and place.
Chef Fehribach is also revamping the menu, exploring the roots of southern cuisine in additional regions like Africa and the Caribbean. Dishes may be found on southern menus from coast to coast, but Chef Fehribach digs deep into the history of each dish and aims to recreate the original version. Along with what Chef refers to as his “dream kitchen” and by employing both art and science to each recipe, the new menu is a representation of today’s southern cooking and continues to share the story of the cuisine. The dinner offerings present both deeply rooted, historic southern cooking that has been a hallmark of Big Jones, and a more contemporary look at the cuisine, which is changing as fast as the region’s demographics.
Guest favorites like the Fried Chicken (fried in leaf lard, ham drippings and clarified butter), Shrimp and Grits (Laughing Bird sustainable shrimp, creamy antebellum heirloom grits, mushroom and tasso gravy, housemade Worcestershire and scallions), Butcher’s Pork Duet (sweet tea-brined and lightly smoked house-butchered pork loin, crispy boudin ball, baked bean puree and sweet potato hash) and the extensive housemade whole hog Boucherie Board (a sampling of housemade charcuterie, pickles, preserves, served with homemade breads and crackers) and brunch staples like Salt & Pepper Biscuits (house-rendered leaf lard and cultured buttermilk) and Bayou Teche Omelet (Louisiana crawfish, spicy smoked Andouille and cream cheese) still grace the menu. Providing a fresh approach for diners, Black Eyed Pea Fritters (kani sauce, fiery tamarind and scotch bonnet pepper sauce) is a nod to the West African roots of southern cuisine, the Chestnut Spaghetti (housemade pasta from the rare American chestnut tossed with morel mushrooms and black walnuts) is a meditation of the changing seasons in the woods, the Blood Orange Marzipan Tart (served with absinthe ice cream) expresses bold flavors in a refined presentation, and the Rabbit Roulade (rabbit mortadella and loin plated with ramp green spätzle and roux peas) brings a contemporary spin on the classic dish.
“As a restaurant ten years in the making, we are excited about this next chapter,” says Chef Fehribach. “Not only will our guests experience a greater connection to their food through the open kitchen concept, but we will be able to bring a global culinary influence back into the story. Our goal is to bring a new yet familiar dining experience to both Chicagoans and travelers alike.”
Full menus will be available in the coming weeks.