Fulton Grace detected a fresh ripple in the city’s restaurant pool, so we followed our nose to 2700 W Chicago, Humboldt Park’s Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar.
Guy Meikle, Executive Chef and President, was kind enough to answer some questions in the heart of it all—the kitchen. Between brief introductions, the clamor of cookware, and calls for dish firing, Chef Guy Meikle filled us in.
Heritage has a story to share, a tribute to make, and a highbrow association to overturn. But where did it all begin?
Growing up in a family that “ate a lot of strange, pickled fish things,” Meikle has long felt akin to sea bites—anchovies, sardines, oysters, and you guessed it, caviar. He and his front of house manager, Jan Henrichsen, share such a potent affection for the salt-cured fish eggs (or roe) that it serves as the focal point for Meikle’s latest expedition— “doing something nobody else is doing.”
The two joined forces with other cooks and staff from their culinary past to unearth and re-plate the “underrepresented” delicacy in terms of cuisine, culture, and class.
Designer and friend Brett Johnson helped dovetail visions of ancestral artifacts, sturgeon, and midwestern comfort into an environment as evocative as the fare yet as unassuming as the spirit. By adorning the restaurant walls with family photos and assimilating the team’s varying ethnicities into dishes, the all-day establishment proudly invokes its name.
Now, just a few days from the official open Friday, Meikle and crew are about ready to share the wealth of Korean, Russian, Polish, German, and Czech flavors they grew up with and break down any barriers from the public palate.
Influences from many peoples and prices for every pocket should cater to the Chicago “epicenter” well. Ukrainian Village natives, Wicker Park residents (like Meikle), Blue Line passengers, Logan Square wanderers, and those with a hankering for the unexpected comprise the anticipated catch. The bait? Green oyster kimchi, pork chops & grits, citrus-soaked whitefish, baked king crab, and a medley of caviar & other garnishes.
While caviar won’t appear in every menu item, you can still taste the contribution. That doesn’t mean caviar-infused cocktails (although shooters with caviar, quail egg, and oysters are available). That just means the foods from Meikle and other Heritage stewards’ history have been revisited for a new generation of eaters—those looking for authentic, contemporary, and enticing provisions and the chance to cross another neighborhood harbor off their list.
As for those prices, Heritage continues to promote accessibility with options that range from $10-150 a plate. The 2-level space even features a casual dining atmosphere and a more refined upper deck. Don’t let that deter you from ordering the $150 meals downstairs, though.
Meikle and staff simply want to serve up a unique perspective, to offer something for all patrons, even if it’s not caviar. He’d rather guests leave with a sight, a swallow, a sense of heritage.