Restaurant Review – Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

“Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, home to celebrated Chef Art Smith, is a farm-to-table oasis in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast and deeply rooted in the philosophy of letting the seasons dictate the menu.”

Management, Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

For a moment of calm during a busy holiday season, the Blue Door Kitchen & Garden on the Gold Coast provides an oasis in the middle of a busy Chicago, serving upscale, Southern-inspired comfort food. 

Created by Chef Art Smith, a Chicago Culinary Museum Hall of Fame inductee, the website notes that Blue Door Garden & Kitchen showcases American heirloom foods made from fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from Midwest farms, including Oprah Winfrey’s former Indiana property, Blue Door Farm. 

Blue Door’s most peaceable oasis is their patio garden, outfitted with a heated tent for winter dining. The patio is available on a first come, first served basis, and reservations are highly recommended.

Chef Smith’s current menu features traditional Southern-inspired comfort food. 

Blue Door is one of a handful of restaurants in the city serving a daily brunch, from 11am-2pm. Highly recommended is the Art Smith Fried Chicken & Waffles, featuring a buttermilk waffle served with rosemary maple syrup. Smith’s take on Avocado Toast pairs it with pickled shrimp, asparagus, hard boiled egg, and tarragon. Beignets, a Louisiana deep-fried staple, are served with raspberry-champagne coulis and fresh fruit. Quiche Lorraine pairs house lardon (French-inspired  cubes or short strips of bacon cut crosswise) and roasted onions.

One Google reviewer raved, “The best southern food in the city! Everything on the menu will blow you away… the fried chicken is crispy and the shrimp mac-and-cheese and corn bread is to die for. Shrimp and grits and salmon was also good.”

“All dishes are fantastic!!,” another exclaimed. “We had deviled egg, fried chicken, kale salad and hummingbird cake. Love the atmosphere and the food here.”

Dinners start with appetizers like Southern-inspired Deviled Eggs, made with chicken crackling, house mustard, and bacon. Or, try the butternut squash soup with toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and crème fraiche. For a lighter touch, start with Cauliflower Florets, served with a seasonal dipping sauce. 

Another light option are the salads, which includes a fresh Beet Salad, with roasted and pickled beets, Granny Smith apples, pecans, gruyere crème fraiche, orange and fennel vinaigrette. Or an Eggplant Salad, featuring breaded eggplant, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and goat cheese, with a balsamic glaze.

Dinner entrees are Southern-focused with American and French accents. Shrimp & Grits are made with white corn grits, andouille sausage, okra, and a tomato stew. Salmon en Croute is served with apple butter, Brussels sprouts, fennel, and rosemary cream. Rack of Lamb is served with roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots, and celery root puree. Coq Au Vin offers a duck leg with pearl onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and a red wine reduction.

Save room for Blue Door’s desserts, especially the traditional deep-south Hummingbird Cake, with pecan, coconut crumble, seasonal coulis, or the Key Lime Pie, with whipped cream, macadamia praline, and a burnt honey caramel.

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden is located at 52 W. Elm Street. Their hours are Monday-Friday,  11am – 9pm, and Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 9pm. Reservations are highly recommended. For more information, click here.  

Alison Moran and Dean’s Team Chicago