Restaurant Review – Celebrate Labor Day with Wicker Park’s Lardon

As the unofficial end of summer comes this Labor Day Weekend (sniff, sniff,) make it a special one with a handmade charcuterie board celebration at Logan Square’s casual, meaty, and rustic Lardon.

Inspired in part by old-world butcher shops, Lardon specializes in charcuterie(a French term for cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit) and salumi (sliced, cured meats served as an appetizer in an Italian meal) all made on site.  As Chef/Owner Chris Thompson explains on the website: “Cured meats are our foundation at Lardon.” 

Epi-curious diners and families can watch Thompson and his staff curing meats through a glass window from the tables.

Thompson’s charcuterie program focuses on “the utilization of the whole animal, sourcing from local farmers and purveyors throughout the Midwest.”

The year-old spot was named a Michelin Bib Gourmand earlier this year. Setting the tone for a true old-world experience are the exposed brick walls and original wood in the 110-year Logan Square building, along with Thompson’s antique honeycomb tiled floors, which, as they note, pay homage to a bygone era in classic Chicago design, while white subway tiles line the back bar of the light-filled space.

A rotating trio of meat & cheese boards could start with Soppressata Originale, featuring white pepper, Chile flakes, and white wine, or Salame Calabrese, with Calabrian chiles, garlic, and wild oregano, or Soppressata Napoletana, with Diavoletti chiles. This could be accompanied by Fromage des Tete, a rich and fatty cheese made with rosemary and red wine vinegar, or Lonza, made with black pepper, ‘Nduja with Calabrian chiles, and sweet and smoked paprika, or Pork Terrina with white peppercorn, coriander, and senise pepper.

Lunch at Lardon is served from 11am-3:30pm daily. Don’t miss their Frisee & Lardon Salad,   featuring a soft poached egg, rendered pork belly, fine herbs, shallot, dijon mustard, and banyuls vinegar. Or, try the vegetarian-friendly Green Monster, asalad of broccolini, zucchini, avocado, shishito peppers, pistachio, toasted farro, and tarragon-green goddess dressing.

But…save room for Lardon’s sandwiches! They could be a ’charcuterie on bread.’ Fidnocchiona & Butter is a combination of fennel seed salami, Wisconsin farm butter, arugula, and sea salt, served on a rustic baguette. Thompson’s vaunted Reuben sandwich has pastrami, Midnight Moon gouda, fancy sauce, house kraut, and deli pickles, served on a marbled rye bread. The Italiano is a mix of sopressata, salame calabrese, ‘nduja, provolone, shredded iceberg, tomato, onion, and house giardinera, on an amorosa roll. 

Google reviews border on rapturous, with a 4.8 average rating:

 “Excellent spot in Logan Square for casual dining. Lardon’s charcuterie and cured meats are absolutely fantastic. Perfect blend of salty meat & marble fat-melts in your mouth! The spicy sausage was delicious. Their cheeses are also great! Great quality, but not overly pricey. All chef selections were on point! The Ruben sandwich was also yummy. Good balance of salty and funky. The rye bread was thick and perfect toasted. Those house made potato chips though! So crunchy! Excellent place for lunch! I’ll be back, for sure!!”

“Hands down one of my favorite spots in Chicago. Both the food and atmosphere were outstanding. We ordered a few cheeses and chorizo to pair with their amazing homemade focaccia, onion jam and strawberry jam. Our waiter, Casey, is the actual highlight of my trip to this city. He was so attentive, welcoming and kind. Couldn’t have had a better birthday lunch anywhere else. Thank you Casey you’re the absolute best!!”

Lardon is located at 2200 N. California Avenue. Their hours are 8am–9pm. The café is open from 8am–11am, Lunch is served from 11am – 3:30pm, followed by ‘Boards & Booze’ from 3:30pm–9pm. For more information, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago