Photo of a candle at a Halloween party

Restaurant Review – High Spirits, Spooky Vibes, and Deadly (Good) Plates at the Dandy Crown

Photo of a candle at a Halloween party

With Halloween Weekend and Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) ahead of us, Chicago restaurants are gearing up for a haunting good time, with special menus and drinks designed for your scary pleasure! 

Take, for example, River West’s Dandy Crown. As their website notes, Dandy Crown was opened in December 2019 by married partners Julia Shell and Jamie Hale as an approachable, neighborhood cocktail-focused restaurant and bar. The vibe iis”laid-back-luxe and filled with images of nontraditional dandy kings, queens, and other crown-wearers; a nod to Jamie’s British citizenship.”

The space is easy to find, with outdoor murals painted on their fenced-in patio by Chicago muralists Cyd Smillie and Jeff Kierna, featuring luminaries like David Bowie. The patio also features a mini-haunted house for atmosphere, while indoors, a fireplace and art-filled walls create a cozy setting for guests. 

Its Black Lagoon immersive Halloween Pop-Up, “pays homage to the macabre while celebrating with eerily delicious cocktails.” The Black Lagoon is open daily through Halloween (Monday, October 31.) The special drink menu includes the Double Cross, mixing Makers Mark, Lustau amontillado, Lustau Vermut Rosso, Nixta Licor de Elote, Green Apple Cordial, and saline. Or, the Hellraiser, with Hornitos Blanco, Chairman’s Spiced Rum, Cointreau, Lustau Amontillado, Giffard Banane du Brasil, Spiced Orgeat, lime, and aromatic bitters. And finally… the Closed Casket, mixing Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, Lustau Brandy de Jerez, Giffard Abricot du Roussillon, Passionfruit syrup, Miso Falernum, Lemon, Anisette, and Hellfire Bitters. 

For non-alcoholic drinkers, the Dandy Crown serves up the Ritual Sacrifice mixing a Ritual Gin Alternative with passionfruit, beet, and ginger beer, as well as the Satanic Panic, with a Ritual Tequila Alternative, pineapple, Falernum, and lime

Beyond the Black Lagoon… 

The Dandy Crown created some creative small plates, including Dead Fish Dip, with a cod and crab blend, rye, Old Bay seasoning, fresh herbs, and lemon zest, served with crostini, or the Sacrificial Lamb, pairing lamb tartare with beet mayo, cilantro oil, preserved lemon, and Za’atar herbs. 

Larger plates celebrate the season with Squid Game Ravioli, withhouse-made kimchi chicken, filled Squid Ink ravioli, Gochujang (red chili paste,) Mizuna (mustard) greens, and Togarashi (Japanese spice blend). Black Soul Bacon pairs braised Neuske’s slab bacon, sauteed greens, black treacle (syrup,) and green onion. Pollo of the Dead hascrisp chicken, cilantro aioli, salsa negra, and arugula, on a Sesame Bun, with pickled fresno (hot chiles.)

Save room for their deadly good dessert… S’mores from Sugar Bliss! Feast on a giant marshmallow, with chocolate and graham cracker cake! If you’re seated by that fire pit, you can roast the marshmallow to gooey, burnt perfection.

Google reviewers mostly enjoyed the ambience, food and drinks:

“Outstanding venue to just hang out and enjoy a quiet cocktail,” said one reviewer. “And the food is a great accompaniment to the drinks! And the outdoor patio is perfect.“

Another wrote:

“Extremely impressed by the food menu and size of the very dog friendly outdoor space.”

The Dandy Crown is located at 694 N. Milwaukee Avenue, in a brick two-flat. From Sunday-Thursday, the kitchen is open from 4pm-10pm, on Friday, from Kitchen 4pm-midnight, Saturday, from 4pm-midnight. (Note: times are for kitchen only: this is a restaurant review, for goodness’ sake!) Reservations are strongly recommended. Click here for reservations. 

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago