The Duck Inn • News

The Duck Inn
2701 S Eleanor, Chicago
(312) 724-8811


  • August 4 2023


    Duck wings take off as a hot menu item in Chicago

    Axios Chicago
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    We’ve been doing duck wings since the very beginning, way back in 2014. They're still the perfect snack, especially when paired with a cold beer or refreshing cocktail. Thanks for the shout out, Monica.

    Read the rest at Axios, here.

    …they've been a top seller at [Chef Patron Kevin Hickey's] celebrated Bridgeport restaurant almost since it opened.
    Monica Eng | Axios Chicago
  • June 30 2023


    Who makes Chicago’s best hot dog?

    Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune food critic Nick Kindelsperger tries 21 different hot dogs made in the hot dog city and narrows them down to the best of the best. Thanks for the nod, Nick!
    See the top four dogs at
    Looking for the juiciest hot dog in Chicago? That title belongs to the sausage designed by Kevin Hickey, the chef at The Duck Inn.
    Nick Kindelsperger | Chicago Tribune
  • June 26 2023


    The Duck Inn teams up with Kim's Uncle Pizza

    Axios Chicago
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    The Duck Inn hosted a collaboration with Kim's Uncle Pizza, based in Westmont, run by our friends that owned Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream just a few blocks south of us. If you find yourself in the western suburbs, we think you should stop in for a slice (or 25) of their excellent, Chicago, tavern-style, thin-crust pie. Learn more at

    The best bite [is their] Sicilian slice. The crew whipped up some very tasty Italian Neapolitan pizzas, but their famous Sicilian slices steal the spotlight.
    Justin Kaufmann | Axios Chicago
  • June 2 2023


    “The 29 Best Restaurants in Chicago” 2023

    Condé Nast Traveler
    The 25-time National Magazine Award-winning travel periodical generously named The Duck Inn one of the best restaurants in Chicago, 2023 (in addition to 2019 and 2017.) Thanks, we’re beyond flattered.
    Read the article and delve into some of the other remarkable Chicago dining establishments that we love, too.
    Kevin Hickey, chef-owner, is a neighborhood native done good, returning to his haunts at this homey-yet-luxe “gastrotavern” that feels at turns personal and superlative.
    Nicole Schnitzler & Brad Japhe | Conde Nast Traveler
  • May 14 2023


    Mommapalooza 2023

    Another triumphant Mother’s Day brunch

    Thanks so much for making the 6th Annual Mother of All Brunches our most successful Mother’s Day, to date. We hope you had a wonderful time, because we sure had a blast serving you. See you next year!

  • April 24 2023


    “The Absolute Best Brunch Spots in Chicago Right Now”

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    Thrillist once again names our neighborhood gastro tavern one of the best eateries in the city; this time, for our “totally bonkers” Sunday Brunch. View at

    Buttermilk biscuits slathered in butter whipped with duck fat; sopes layered with chile-braised duck, salsa verde, and eggs; smoked salmon on toast with curried avocado, spiced mango, and a crisp radish—these unfathomably tasty dishes represent a mere fraction of this famed Bridgeport gastropub’s totally bonkers Sunday brunch offerings…
    Sam Greszes, Meredith Heil, Elanor Bock | Thrillist
  • March 4 2020


    Where to eat and drink in Bridgeport

    Eater Chicago
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    The retro-inspired space, housed inside a pre-Prohibition era building, is equally enthralling while the lovely back patio is an ideal place to hang out during the summer.
    Jeffry Mai | Eater Chicago

    Read the entire article at Eater Chicago, here.

2019 - 2018

  • September 29 2019


    The Duck Inn makes the Michelin Guide Chicago Bib Gourmands for 5th consecutive year

    Michelin Guide
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    Here ye, here ye: the results are officially in for the MICHELIN Guide 2020 Bib Gourmand-designated restaurants, with this year's selection including 54 eateries, 14 of which are new. Bib Gourmand restaurants are selected by MICHELIN’s inspectors because they serve high-quality food available at a reasonable price.
    Michelin Guide 2020

    Thank you Michelin for our 5th Bibb Gourmand in a row in our 5th year! See the full list on the Michelin Guide website here.

  • September 11 2019


    35 Best Restaurants in Chicago

    Conde Nast Traveler
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    Kevin Hickey, chef-owner, is a neighborhood native done good, returning to his haunts at this homey-yet-luxe “gastrotavern” that feels at turns personal and superlative. The Duck Inn is named after Hickey’s great-grandmother's Depression-era restaurant, once located not far from the tavern's present location — and the food is a nod to that history. Depending on your dining style, opt for the five-course tasting menu or go hog-wild (or is it ducking wild?) on the a la carte list of upscale comforts.
    Brad Japhe - Conde Nast Traveler

    Check out the full article at Conde Nast Traveler here.

  • July 16 2019


    The 50 best dishes in Chicago

    Chicago Magazine
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    More restaurants should have spinning rotisseries full of ducks in their kitchens. It’s Kevin Hickey’s calling card at his cozy, excess-relishing den. He roasts the breasts, then brines, air-dries, and slowroasts the rest of the bird, duck fat tumbling onto the bed of Yukon gold potatoes at the bottom of the oven, a glorious feast of fat with a couple of watermelon radishes thrown on for a whiff of balance.
    Carly Boers, John Kessler, Jeff Ruby, Carrie Schedler, and Claire Voon - Chicago Magazine

    Check out the full article from Chicago Magazine here.

  • June 30 2019


    One of the top 5 Bloody Marys in Chicago

    Eat Drink and Bloody Mary
    Bloody Mary
    When life gives you lemons, why wouldn’t you make a Bloody Mary?! The Duck Inn goes simple with a whole lot of citrus on their Bloody, which makes for a super light and drinkable brunch cocktail. No frills or garnishes, just Aylesbury duck vodka (duh), San Marzano puree and a house spice mix. I could drink these all day! And do yourself a favor, try the fried cheese curds with bloody mary ketchup. You’ll thank me later.
    Jason Pirock | Eat Drink and Bloody Mary

    Check out the full article at Eat Drink and Bloody Mary here.

  • Aoril 25 2019


    The 20 essential brunch restaurants in Chicago

    Eater Chicago
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    Kevin Hickey has been quietly turning heads at Eater Chicago’s 2015 Restaurant of The Year. His Bridgeport gem, hidden away on a side street, is heavy on comfort fare, such as fried cheese curds, a duck fat dog, and a top notch hamburger sandwich. For brunch-ier plates, there’s an “Egg McDuckInn” sandwich, and, predictably, rotisserie duck hash.
    Jeffry Mai | Eater Chicago

    Check out the full article at Eater Chicago, here.

  • Aoril 10 2019


    The 20 essential hot dogs in Chicago

    Eater Chicago
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    The Duck Inn's duck fat dog is the kind of mad scientist genius diners have come to expect from Kevin Hickey. The hybrid beef/duck link is a welcome addition to Chicago's hot dog landscape.
    Ashok Selvam | Eater Chicago

    Check out the full article at Eater Chicago, here.

  • February 8 2018


    20 Great Restaurants for Solo Dining in Chicago, 2018 Edition

    Eater Chicago
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    Eater Chicago’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year whips up an array of Midwestern comfort fare but guests don’t have to sit in the main room to try them. Instead, the bar is a great place for parties of one to snack on fried cheese curds, a drool-worthy hamburger sandwich, and a decadent duck fat dog. It’s gastropub dining taken to the next level by the talented Kevin Hickey.
    Jeffry Mai | Eater Chicago

    Check out the full article at Eater Chicago, here.

  • February 5 2018


    Chef Kevin Hickey wins Abt's First-Annual Charity Chili Challenge

    Winner of Chili Challenge

    We could not be more proud of our leader and friend @chefhickey for winning Abt's chili challenge raising $5000 for Greater Chicago Food Depository! #untilnextyear #ChicagoRestaurantWeek2018 #workingclassfinedining

  • January 5 2018


    There has never been a better time to eat a Chicago-style hot dog

    Food & Wine
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    At The Duck Inn, chef Kevin Hickey takes it up a gourmet notch by blending a perfect amount of beef and duck fat in a hog casing to bring hungry diners the Duck Fat Dog, the restaurant’s tribute to a Chicago dog. “We grill it until nicely charred and then top it with all of the classic ingredients made in-house—beer mustard, relish, pickles, pickled hot peppers (which we grow ourselves), onions, tomatoes and celery salt—all on a brioche poppy seed bun,” he says.

    Read the full article at Food & Wine.


  • October 13 2017


    Michelin's Bib Gourmand awards go to 54 Chicago restaurants, with 8 newcomers

    Chicago Tribune
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    "Thank you to our team and everyone who dines with us here in Bridgeport. And thank you @michelininspectors @michelinguide for the honors again!" – Kevin Hickey

    Read Phil Vettel's full article at the Chicago Tribune, here.

  • September 29 2017


    Chef Kevin Hickey going solo, dissolves partnership with Rockit Ranch

    Chicago Tribune
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    "In October, The Duck Inn will become independent. I will operate the restaurant as my own and I will focus my time and energy on my two families: my wife & son, and The Duck Inn. My partner, and Barman, Brandon Phillips continues to and will always be, an integral part of The Duck Inn.”

    Read the full article at the Chicago Tribune, here.

  • September 14 2017


    Chicago's Top Brunch Restaurants

    Time Out Chicago
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    The Duck Inn is featured in Time Out Chicago’s roundup of the best restaurants in our city where guests can enjoy morning fare such as Duck Confit Hash or Fried Cheese Curds served with Bloody Mary ketchup!

    Check out the full article for more details on our brunch menu.

  • September 5 2017


    The Duck Inn's "SpaMai Tai" is The Ultimate Summer Cocktail

    Urban Daddy
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    Urban Daddy features The Duck Inn’s famous ‘SpaMai Tai’ as the ultimate cocktail to enjoy before summer officially ends! Check out the recipe created by Brandon Phillips, lead barman, here.

  • August 22 2017


    10 Hotdogs Every Chicagoan Needs To Try

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    The Duck Inn’s famous Duck Fat Dog, served Chicago-style on a brioche poppy seed bun with mustard, relish, hot peppers, zesty housemade pickles, tomatoes, onions and celery salt, is named in Zagat Chicago’s recent roundup of the “10 Hotdogs Every Chicagoan Needs to Try”. Read the full article here.

  • August 22 2017


    The 25 Essential Brunch Restaurants in Chicago

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    Eater Chicago names The Duck Inn one of the best spots in Chicago to enjoy a chef-driven brunch! Read the full article here.

  • August 22 2017


    The 25 Essential Brunch Restaurants in Chicago

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    Eater Chicago names The Duck Inn one of the best spots in Chicago to enjoy a chef-driven brunch! Read the full article here.

  • May 18 2017


    Conde Naste Traveler's "19 Best Restaurants in Chicago"

    Conde Naste Traveler
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    Conde Naste Traveler names Chicago “the best restaurant city in America right now” and lists The Duck Inn as #2 in its list of best restaurants. Read the full story here.

  • May 9 2017


    Time Out Chicago Features the "Autumn Kaleidoscope"

    Time Out Chicago
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    Feel like showing off your Chicago pride? Time Out Chicago named The Duck Inn’s “Autumn Kaleidoscope” a must-try cocktail to sip on while celebrating our city. Read the full article here.

  • April 4 2017


    The Duck Inn Featured as Top Spot to Eat Before White Sox Games

    RedEye Chicago
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    Food and baseball are two of Chicago’s biggest passions, and they come together beautifully on game days. If you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite before you head to a White Sox game, RedEye Chicago suggest you try The Duck Inn! Read the full story here.

  • March 30 2017


    Phil Vettel of The Chicago Tribune Speaks With Our Team

    Chicago Tribune
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    Phil Vettel, the Chicago Tribune Restaurant Critic, speaks to Kevin Hickey and Kris Delee about the exciting transition. Read the full article here.

  • March 30 2017


    Meet Kris Delee, The Duck Inn's New Executive Chef

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    Join us in welcoming Chef Kris Delee on board as the new Executive Chef of The Duck Inn! Check out our first ever ‘Chef Q&A’ to get to know the creative mastermind behind this popular venue’s brand new menu.

    1. What is your first notable food memory? How did it influence your career?

    My mother’s unbelievable fried chicken has been a constant in my life ever since I was a child. To this day it remains my favorite meal. Even in my years as a confused vegan I would break for this chicken! My mom’s simple dish seemed to comfort everyone who ate it and I like to think that her soothing influence is at the core of my thinking when it comes to creating menus of my own. If you walk away from my table in a better mood than when you came in, I did something right.

    2. How did you get your start in the restaurant industry?

    I left home at an early age and needed to make ends meet, so I took a job as a line cook in a local pub. Having only ever cooked a pizza up until that point, the thought of being left alone in the kitchen was terrifying but also thrilling! After a few weeks – and a lot of trial and error – I started to get the hang of things and began to enjoy the rush of a busy kitchen. Learning to create new, innovative dishes became my passion. Even at this point in my career, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new or get inspired by what’s going on around me – it’s my favorite part of the job.

    3. Do you have an industry mentor/idol that you look up to? Why do you look up to this person?

    My mentor is Chef Kyle Johnson of Bourbon Steak in Los Angeles. He and I have been best friends since the moment we met 15 years ago – corny, I know. Kyle gave me one of my first big career breaks at Alize in Las Vegas and since then has given me a deep, intrinsic appreciation for fine dining, as well as a lesson in what it means to lead by example.

    4. What excites you most about your new role at The Duck Inn?

    I’ve always felt like a starving artist in my career without an outlet to truly let my creativity flow freely – until now. Working as the Executive Chef at The Duck Inn has allowed me to explore a whole new aspect of my culinary wild side without having to worry about pulling back. Chef Hickey has truly ‘let me off my leash’ and it’s a great feeling to be trusted so much by a man with such an impressive industry reputation.

    5. What are three words you would use to describe your new menu? Elaborate on each, please.

    Technique-driven: I’ve worked for some amazing chefs in my time who have shown me fantastic tricks and tools along the way, from making a foam that stands up correctly to the importance of basting fish just right. I’ve brought a little bit of each of those influences to each of my dishes for The Duck Inn.

    Whimsical: I didn’t take myself too seriously when designing this new menu. Each featured dish is not only fun for me to make, but fun for guests to eat! For example, our Foie Gras Mousse is molded into the shape of Lego building blocks. I have played with this idea for a menu item for several years, and The Duck Inn felt like the perfect backdrop for its debut.

    Unapologetic: People are like snowflakes, we are all different. Certain dishes on my menu may not be for everyone, but hey, it takes all kinds, right?

    read more
  • March 8 2017


    Michelin Dining Near McCormick Place
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    The Duck Inn is featured on as one of the best options for pre- or post-convention dining near McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center. Read the full story here.

  • January 6 2017


    Top 5 Most Creative Hot Dogs in Chicago from Dallas News

    Dallas Morning News
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    Dallas Morning News featured us as one of the most creative hot dogs in Chicago! Noting our vintage dining space and unique incorporation of duck into the dog, they had this to say about our most popular item:

    “Hickey’s Duck Fat Dog ($10) starts with a beef-and-duck-blend sausage. That’s where the unfamiliarity ends: The dog is dressed with Chicago-style elements including a fresh poppyseed bun, pickle and a sauce the staff calls the Chicago Super Condiment, a custom blend of traditional toppings – beer mustard, red onion, pickles, peppers and cherry tomatoes. Retro undertones are found in leather banquettes and chandeliers.”

    Read the entire article here.


  • December 21 2016


    The Best Things We Ate (and Drank) at Chicago Gourmet

    Bon Appétit
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    Duck, Duck, Hot Dog!!

    When the sun is shining, and you’re outside it just makes sense to be eating a delicious hot dog, doesn’t it?

    During the year we make our way to many food festivals around the country — but we hold a place near and dear to our heart for the windy city and the absolutely delicious weekend that is Chicago Gourmet.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • December 20 2016


    Holiday Rotisserie Duck Featured on Fox

    Fox 32 Chicago
    Signature Rotisserie Duck

    Chef Hickey stopped by Fox32Chicago to cook up his famous Rotisserie Duck!

    With a little help from Corey McPherrin at Fox, Chef showed how to properly cook a whole duck. Sharing tips on texture and cooking times for each part of the duck, any level chef can feel like they can cook the perfect holiday bird! You can get Chef’s entire duck recipe when you make a donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository with the link provided below!

    Our Rotisserie Duck with all the trimmings is available to be ordered for pickup also! Please call (312) 724-8811 to place your holiday to-go order.

  • November 4 2016


    The Duck Inn Makes the Michelin Bib Gourmand List

    Michelin Bib Gourmand
    Brandon Phillips at the bar

    We are proud to announce that The Duck Inn has made the 2016 Michelin Bib Gourmand List!

    We are honored to receive this accolade that represents the best restaurants in Chicago to offer high end cuisine at affordable prices. Stop in to try one of our drinks or dishes that helped us receive this award and to congratulate Chef Hickey and his team!

  • October 20 2016


    The Duck Inn Featured on The Travel Channel UK

    Travel Channel UK

    Chef Kevin Hickey was recently selected by the Illinois Office of Tourism to represent Chicago on the Travel Channel UK’s segment “30 Chefs in 30 Days.” Chef Hickey spoke not only about his Bridgeport roots and delicious rotisserie duck, but about the vibrate nightlife options and mesmerizing skyline of Chicago. Born and raised on the Southside, Chef Hickey provides tourists with real insight on what it means to be a Chicagoan.

  • October 17 2016


    The Best Bridgeport Spots by Thrillist

    Thrillist Chicago

    Thrillist Chicago had this to say about the Bridgeport neighborhood: “The South Side perpetually gets short shrift when it comes to conversations about drinking and dining in Chicago, so it would feel like a misstep to go anywhere else when seeking the most overlooked ‘hood when it comes to filling your face.”

    When highlighting The Duck Inn they mentioned our Michelin rated Chef and cuisine: “The Duck Inn brings in diners from all over for serious cocktails and high-end tavern food from Kevin Hickey, who previously impressed at the Four Seasons’ Allium.”

    Stop in to sample one of our delicious dishes next time you’re in the neighborhood! Read the entire article here.

  • October 13 2016


    CBS Chicago's Best oldies Music Bars In Chicago

    CBS Chicago
    Vintage hi-fi console

    CBS Chicago had this to say about The Duck Inn:

    “You’ve heard The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, and jazz classics on your smartphone — but what about hearing them on vinyl? When you take part in The Duck Inn’s “Bring Your Own Vinyl” event, you just might hear vintage favorites (and even some new stuff; after all, Adele’s 25 was released on vinyl) in a new way. Held every Sunday starting at noon, the event is a great way to dust off your favorite records to share with the audience or enjoy hearing music in a new way. The Bridgeport neighborhood gastrotavern serves up brunch and dinner, as well as mimosas, cocktails, and craft beer.”

    Stop by every Sunday to discover eclectic new music. Read the entire article here.

  • October 13 2016


    The 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants to Eat At This Fall by Eater Chicago

    Eater Chicago
    Duck Inn exterior

    Eater Chicago had this to say about The Duck Inn:

    “Longtime local chef Kevin Hickey’s personal passion project has garnered local and national accolades even the chef/owner didn’t foresee, managing to highlight ramped-up versions of Chicago street food, his fine-dining chops, and his ancestral working-class Bridgeport neighborhood in one swoop. Don’t miss the duck fat hot dog, the rotisserie duck, the cocktails at the bar, the brunch, or the great backyard.”

    Come visit us this fall in Bridgeport for a real Southside dining experience. Read the entire article here.

  • October 4 2016


    Our Chef's tasting menu Named Best Taste For Your Money by Thrillist

    Crispy Chicken Thigh

    Thrillist named our Chef Tasting courses the best bang for your buck! The Tasting is four courses from our seasonal menu chosen by Chef Kevin Hickey himself!

    “Based upon its Bridgeport location on Loomis by the Chicago River, the restaurant toes the line somewhere between neighborhood hangout to being many of Chicagoland’s food-forward residents’ “best kept secret.”

    They also commended our cozy atmosphere and filling food. Stop in to try our Chef Tasting Menu this season. Read the entire article here.

  • September 7 2016


    Chef Hickey Featured On The Dane Neal Show

    Danel Neal Show
    WGN Radio

    Our Executive Chef Kevin Hickey sat down with Chicago radio personality Dane Neal this week! A noted foodie, Neal had Chef Hickey on to talk about the upcoming Chicago Gourmet food festival where he will represent The Duck Inn.

    Chef Hickey said that he loves getting to interact with thousands of locals who stop by his booth or come to watch food demonstrations. Hickey mentioned how notable the event has become saying, “It’s like the Academy Awards of food.”

    Chicago Gourmet happens September, 23rd-25th 2016 in Millenium Park. Listen to the interview here.

  • September 6 2016


    Duck Fat Dog Featured on Do312’S Best Hot Dogs in Chicago List

    Duck Fat Dog

    Chicago’s Do312 featured our Duck Fat Dog as one of the Best in Chicago!

    It’s done up Chicago Style and features Instant Pickle for a savory, authentic Chicago taste. See the full list here.

  • September 5 2016


    Heirloom Burrata & Duck Fat Dog Make Eater Chicago’s Instagram

    Eater Chicago

    Eater Chicago featured two of our classic Duck Inn dishes!

    First, our new menu item – Heirloom Burrata with Tomato Gazpacho, Pickled Watermelon Rind and Pleasant House Bread.

    Instagram Post

    And last but not least our famous Duck Fat Dog done up Chicago Style with Instant Pickle.

    Instagram Post
    read more
  • September 5 2016


    Duck Inn’s Bone-In Short Rib Highlighted in Michigan Ave Magazine

    Michigan Avenue Magazine
    Bone-in Short Rib

    Michigan Avenue Magazine included Rockit Ranch Production’s newest restaurant The Duck Inn in their June Food & Drink highlights! Looking for the best char-grilled meat, veggies and drinks in Chicago, they featured The Duck Inn’s Bone-In Short Rib with String Bean Ragù, Charred Onion Soubise and Red Wine Sauce.

    Chef Kevin Hickey went on to say what makes the dish so delectable. “We use spring onions, which tend to be on the sweeter side, so the char balances that nicely. And the acidic element balances the fat [of the beef].”

    This fan favorite sits among many on our fresh, rotating seasonal menu at The Duck Inn.

    Read the article here.

  • June 20 2016


    Chicagoist Features Duck Inn for Best Bar & Restaurant Patios in Chicago

    Pizza in the garden

    We are thrilled to see The Chicagoist featuring The Duck Inn on their “Best Of” Chicago section this week! Their recommendation on where to enjoy your meal was the focus.

    “Be sure to sit on the tree-dotted patio for ultimate enjoyment — it’s exactly the place for updated classics, not to mention cocktails like The Duck Out, duck fat-washed Park VS Cognac with Giffard Crème de Mure, Lustao Manzanilla Sherry and a hint of of Chinese five-spice syrup.”

    Read the article.

  • June 1 2016


    Best Hot Dogs in Chicago

    Eater Chicago
    Duck Fat Dog

    When “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi visited town earlier this spring for Chicago Ideas Week, the vegetarian talked about emigrating from India as a child. Despite the meat-free diet, Lakshmi and her mother found one glaring weakness in America: The hot dog.

    The Duck Inn’s Duck Fat Dog is a the kind of mad scientist genius diners have come to expect from Kevin Hickey. The hybrid beef/duck link is a welcome addition to Chicago’s hot dog landscape.

    Check out the full list here.

  • June 1 2016


    Kevin Hickey Competes in 19th Annual Championship BBQ

    Wave 3 News
    Chef Kevin Hickey

    On Sunday, May 22, 13 The Duck Inn’s Kevin Hickey among other chefs competed in the 19th annual Championship BBQ and Cookout, “at the Galleria Marchetti in Chicago, organized by former Food Arts magazine publisher, Barbara Mathias, and digital media publisher SmartBrief.” The Cookout brought together over 800 professionals across the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industries in support of World Central Kitchen, an international organization founded by world-renowned chef José Andrés to seek smart solutions to end hunger and poverty.”

    The winner of this year’s event was Jason Paskewitz of Chicago’s The Blanchard and the runner-up was Cory Morris of Rural Society. Other competing chefs included Tanya Baker of The Boarding House; Greg Biggers, Café des Architectes; Paul Fehribach, Big Jones; Brian Jupiter, Frontier; Shaun King, The Dawson; Michael Kornick, MK; Thomas Lents, Sixteen Restaurant; Martial Noguier, Bistronomic; Tony Priolo, Piccolo Sogno; and Steven “Smokey” Schwartz, Burnt End BBQ. The judging was based on appearance, taste, texture and overall impression.

    “This year’s competition was hugely successful in bringing together the industry to support an important cause,” said Chris Warne, publisher of SmartBrief’s food and beverage team. “We’re honored to again participate in order to give back as well as highlight the talents of emerging culinary leaders.”

    World Central Kitchen uses the expertise of a network of high-profile and leading chefs to empower people to be part of the solution, with a focus on health, education and jobs. A 501(c)3 organization, it focuses its work in Haiti, Zambia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the U.S.

    read more
  • May 19 2016


    Kevin Hickey Celebrity Chef Dinner at The Taste of Chicago

    Chicago Tribune
    Celebl Chef Dinner at Taste of Chicago

    The Chicago Tribune featured Chef Kevin Hickey because he was chosen as a chef for the taste of Chicago’s annual Celebrity Chef du Jour dinners. Tickets for the Taste of Chicago’s Celebrity Chef du Jour dinners, where chosen chefs prepare a three-course, $45 dinner under an air-conditioned tent on the Taste site (Grant Park), go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

    According to the Chicago Tribune, “These dinners always sell out, so don’t dawdle.”

    “Each day of Taste (which runs July 6-10), features a three-course meal by a different chef. Graham Elliot, with Masterchef Junior winner Addison, will kick things off July 6, followed by Kevin Hickey of Rockit Ranch and the Duck Inn on July 7, Patrick Sheerin (The Trenchermen) on July 8, Chris Macchia (Nonnina) on July 9 and Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice) on July 10. All dinners begin at 6:30 p.m., except on Sunday, July 10, when dinner begins at 5:30 p.m.”

    See the full article here.

    read more
  • May 9 2016


    Duck Inn Featured on Fox 32 News for Outdoor Dining

    Fox 32 News

    Sarah Freeman from the Eater Chicago broke down the best outdoor restaurant and bar spots to chill during the Windy City’s nicest months for FOX 32 News.

    Freeman highlighted the Duck Inn’s great cocktail menu and Chef Kevin Hickey’s events in the backyard that make the Duck Inn one of a kind.

    “There’s nothing like summer in Chicago. The Windy City is second-to-none when it comes to outdoor dining and drinking during the summer and there are a slew of patios worth gracing in the warm-weather months.”

    Read the article and view the video here.

  • May 6 2016


    Eater Chicago: One of the Best Patio Spots for Spring

    Eater Chicago

    Springtime in Chicago means its time to finally go outside and enjoy one of the city’s favorite pastimes: Patio Season. The Eater Chicago listed 30 of their favorite patio dining spots in the city and the Duck Inn made the list.

    “A stone’s throw from U.S. Cellular Field, The Duck Inn packs in a crowd on warm-weather days and nights. It’s a bi-level backyard with rustic benches and tables over a brick floor.”

    Read the full article.

  • April 29 2016


    Dine Al Fresco, With the Kids

    Red Tricycle

    Red Tricycle ranked the best kid-friendly restaurants in Chicago where you can dine on the patio, and featured the Duck Inn on the list.

    “Hit up The Duck Inn for cured wild salmon, a salty and rich crumbled duck egg, or a sweet corn funnel cake with blueberries. The casual and family-friendly patio makes this spot a cool community treasure. The Duck Inn offers off-the-hook flavorful food, an intriguing well-designed interior and a passionate crew. Plus it’s B.Y.O.V. (Bring Your Own Vinyl)!”

    Join us on our patio with the kids for your next family dining outing.

    Read the full article.

  • April 29 2016


    Mayor Emanuel Recommends The Duck Inn

    Chicago Tribune
    Mayor Rahm Emanuel

    Chicago is getting ready to host the 2016 James Beard Chef Awards next week so the Tribune sat down with Mayor Rahm Emanuel who is a foodie in his own right to discuss his favorite culinary destinations in Chicago.

    Emanuel said he has been to Bridgeport’s the Duck Inn multiple times and he enjoys exploring new restaurants in different neighborhoods around the city. The challenge is when he and his wife Amy Rule find a restaurant they like, his wife wants to keep going back to the same restaurant while the Mayor wants to explore. On Chicago’s neighborhoods, the mayor said he likes Bridgeport, among other neighborhoods because there is always something going on.

    “I like going out to places that make a statement, taste new things or do something special. I like eating out and seeing what our chefs do,” he said.

    Read the full article.

  • April 25 2016


    Belle of The Bridgeport Brunch Ball

    Chicago Magazine

    Contributor Carly Boers reviewed the Duck Inn for Chicago Magazine and dubbed the Bridgeport hotspot the, “Belle of the Bridgeport Brunch ball.” She gave the Duck Inn a near perfect 9/10 rating.

    Boers praised the “relaxed coolness” about the vibe at the Duck Inn. “Both the front area (which feels very 1960s and includes a retro bar with some sweet yellow stools) and the slightly larger main dining room quickly filled, hosting mostly youngish couples, along with some tot-toting families and even a rather raucous group of dudes. (Were they still buzzed from the night before?).” Boers gave the Duck Inn’s Vibe a 10 out of 10 rating.

    “A side of cheese curd grits ($6) is the most genius mashup we’ve brunched on in ages,” Boers said. “As our server explained, “They’re essentially Southern cheese grits, but we mix in Wisconsin cheese curds—the un-breaded kind—so there are some nice chunks.” Sure, it’s lowbrow, and it may not sound especially appetizing, but just trust us on this one.”

    Boers gave the Duck Inn a 9 out of 10 rating overall. She said, “If you live in or near Bridgeport, lucky you—you’ve got yourself one heck of a brunch destination in your backyard. If you don’t, it’s time to take a Sunday field trip to the Duck Inn. ”

    Join us for brunch this Sunday. Make your reservation today!

    Read the full review.

    read more
  • April 19 2016


    28 Beautiful Bars Across the Country

    Goodlife Report
    Bar & Lounge

    Looking to explore your favorite restaurant from a new vantage point, or maybe ease your way into a spot you’d like to try? Pull up a bar stool and experience all the atmosphere has to offer with a delicious drink in hand. Whether you’re ordering cocktails, snacks or going all out with a full meal, the bar is a great spot to take a seat and enjoy.

    Bringing vintage vibe to its bar with bright light fixtures and art deco-inspired details, The Duck Inn is great for enjoying cocktails, local beers or bar snacks.

    Read the full article.

  • April 18 2016


    Kevin Hickey Featured on Newcity Resto’s Big Heat: Food & Drink Fifty 2016

    Newcity Resto
    Dining Room

    Newcity Resto featured Chef Kevin Hickey in their list of Food & Drink 50 for 2016.

    “When The Duck Inn opened in Bridgeport in 2014, it was a homecoming for chef Kevin Hickey, who grew up down the street from this corner bar/restaurant.”

    “The Duck Inn now draws crowds from all over Chicago, while still maintaining a neighborhood vibe. Hickey earned a Michelin star and AAA Five Diamond status while at the Four Seasons; he then went on to open Bottlefork Bar & Kitchen before turning his talents to The Duck Inn to showcase seasonal American cuisine. The Duck Inn immediately received three stars from the Chicago Tribune. Hickey stays involved in giving-back projects, including working with the Global Act, Growing Power and Common Threads.”

    See the full article.

  • April 8 2016


    Duck Inn Reviewed for Fab Food Chicago

    Fab Food Chicago
    Duck Wings

    Fab Food Chicago contributor Soo Park stopped by The Duck Inn Chicago for lunch on a snowy day in April to review the Bridgeport restaurant for Fab Food Chicago. (

    Park was enjoyed the ambience and eclectic dining room accents like the gold orbs, yellow barstools, and large duck mural on the wall but reserved her applause for the Fried Cheese Curds and Duck Wings in Japanese BBQ sauce.

    Park praised the Duck Inn’s Cheese Curds as a “delightful treat.”

    “I find most restaurants don’t prepare it correctly and make their curds very greasy with a lot of breading. Not Hickey’s version. The cheese is battered in a light tempura making it a delightful treat. The dish is topped with shaved celery and served with Bloody Mary Ketchup and Hoppy Mayo.”

    “Each bite is packed with flavor. The sweet sauce with the crispy skin and juicy center is like no wing I have every tasted,” Park said on the Duck Wings with Japanese BBQ Sauce.

    Overall, Park praised the Duck Inn. She said, “The Duck Inn is truly a neighborhood gem. The history of the family, Hickey’s passion, extraordinary food, crafty drinks, and friendly staff makes this a special place where you feel at home. Hang out and stay awhile!

    Read the full review.

    read more
  • April 6 2016


    Fab Food Chicago Interview with Chef Hickey

    Fab Food Chicago
    Chef Hickey

    Fab Food Chicago contributor Soo Park interviewed Chef Kevin Hickey about The Duck Inn, the rotisserie duck, and some of the rewards and challenges he’s faced opening his own restaurant. Park said Hickey was, “one of the most easy-going and personable chefs I’ve had the opportunity to meet.”

    Hickey said the most rewarding part of his job is “Instant gratification. With most businesses, you have to wait for feedback about your work. In this industry, you get feedback right away. It is rewarding but nerve-racking at times.”

    Check out the full interview, here.

  • March 30 2016


    Rated Top 12 Bloody Mary by the Chicago Eater

    Chicago Eater
    Bloody Mary

    The Eater mapped 12 of the Best Bloody Mary’s in Chicago and the Duck Inn’s unique take on the classic Bloody made the list. If you’re looking for a spicy bloody with zesty lemon and a deep range of flavor, look no further than the Duck Inn.

    “Aylesbury Duck vodka sets this Bloody Mary apart from the rest. The spice notes play well with San Marzano tomato puree that is seasoned with a house seasoning mix and dash of lemon. For a cocktail that is hardly considered complicated, it has surprising depth of flavor.”

    So make your way down to Bridgeport for Sunday Brunch, our Bloody will not disappoint.

    See the full list, here.

  • March 29 2016


    Brandon Phillips a Finalist in the Groupon Food Awards


    Fresh off of winning the Chicago Tribune’s Bartender of the Year Brandon Phillips is up for another award,”The Drink Award for the Advancement of Potent Potables” in The Taste of Groupon Awards.

    Groupon notes Phillips as a reason people don’t just duck in and out of the Duck Inn.

    “Phillips thrives in using spirits and ingredients not seen on many cocktail lists. There’s the Duck Out, a savory blend of duck fat-washed cognac with sherry and five-spice syrup, and the Anton Chigurh, with splashes of Troussepinette Red, gomme syrup, and saline atop a base of five-year scotch. He’s also a whiz with gin, as one nominator enthusiastically pointed out.”

    Join Phillips at the Duck Inn for a drink that you won’t soon forget, and make sure to cast your vote for him to win “The Drink Award for the Advancement of Potent Potables.”

    Check out the full article, here.

  • March 28 2016


    Interview with Chef Hickey on WGN Radio

    WGN Radio
    Chef Hickey

    The Duck Inn’s own Chef Kevin Hickey joined Dane Neal for an interview on WGN Radio. They discussed Hickey’s culinary efforts with the Duck Inn, and the excitement and challenges of, “bringing his brand and vision to a neighborhood with much personal history and a certain amount of business mystery.”

    Hickey tells Neal about Bridgeport’s evolving restaurant and bar community and the draw of the Duck Inn. He says he likes to Keep it fun and accessible kind of restaurant where if you live in the neighborhood you could go out for dinner a couple nights a week and not break the bank but also offer a higher end experience where people can feel like they can go out and splurge if they want.

    Take a listen to the interview and learn why the Duck Inn is so special. Make your reservation today!

  • March 25 2016


    Hamburger Sandwich Makes Thrillist’s Sandwich Bucket List

    Hamburger Sandwich

    The Duck Inn’s Hamburger Sandwich is a decadent and mouthwatering twist on a hamburger and a sandwich. No wonder it topped the list Thrillist released a list of Chicago’s 40 sandwiches that you need to eat before you die.

    “Kevin Hickey’s well-received menu also features a classic patty melt sandwich that consists of a square Tallgrass Beef patty, farm fresh Brun-uusto cheese, onions, and dijonnaise on buttered rye bread — and it all goes on the grill at the same time. Plus, you can get it piping hot at the bar, so even if you can’t get a table, you can still go home with a happy belly.”

    Check out the full article, here.

  • March 25 2016


    Chicago's Destination for Foodies

    Duck Fat Dog

    Time’s MONEY rated the Duck Inn as a top destination in the United States for Foodies because of its delectable menu paired with a price that also goes down smooth. Chicago is the birthplace of distinctive all American eats like Cracker Jack’s, Morton Salt, Wrigley’s gum and of course the, “quintessentially affordable, all-American bite: the hotdog.”

    The Duck Inn’s hotdog does one better with it’s unique Tallgrass beef and duck fat dog.

    “Served in a housemade brioche bun and topped with onions, relish, and celery salt ($10). Pair it with the fried cheese curds with bloody Mary ketchup ($8), and you’ve got yourself the ultimate Midwestern meal.”

  • April 8 2016


    Home of Chicago's Chef & Bartender of the Year

    The Chicago Tribune’s Annual Dining Awards
    Stacks Image 766

    The Duck Inn’s Chef Kevin Hickey and Bartender Brandon Phillips won big in The Chicago Tribune’s Annual Dining awards with Hickey named as Chef of the Year and Phillips named as Bartender of the Year. The Chicago Tribune Dining Awards honor culinary industry professionals for outstanding work in the previous year at new restaurants, and the Duck Inn’s talent has proven itself as nothing short of incredible.

    Kevin Hickey, The Duck Inn

    His rotisserie duck for two is stop-what-you’re-doing, drag-yourself-to-Bridgeport great.

    “With The Duck Inn that Hickey has discovered his sweet spot: It’s at once mass populism (packed on weekends; fried cheese curds with bloody Mary ketchup), antithetical to ostentatious Hubbard Street restaurants, and there’s outsider cred in operating a Michelin-ambition restaurant in Bridgeport, where Hickey grew up,” Kevin Pang, Chicago Tribune Food Contributor, said.

    “Personal accolades aside (Esquire’s best new restaurant list, Michelin Bib Gourmand), Hickey holds the honor of creating the finest duck dish in Chicago — his rotisserie duck for two is stop-what-you’re-doing, drag-yourself-to-Bridgeport great.”

    Brandon Phillips, The Duck Inn

    “Brandy & Cigars, a $30 cocktail served in an oversize snifter filled with cigar smoke, was the first drink that put Brandon Phillips, a young bartender from Wisconsin heading up the bar at Bottlefork in River North, on our radar,” Chicago Tribune contributor, Marissa Conrad, said.

    When you tilt a glass that big to your lips, your nose can’t help but dip into the bowl, forcing you to savor the smoky aroma. Genius.

    “There’s not a throwaway cocktail to be found on his list: Every drink is creative, inspired and, most important, tastes as good as it sounds, from The Duck Out, with duck-fat-washed cognac to the Kingdom of Koryo, with Korean fruit punch, rice punch and soda,” Conrad said.

    Phillips’ enthusiasm about his work makes having a seat at his bar a special experience. “Sit down at his bar and ask about a spirit you don’t recognize and he’ll explain the history of it, bring the bottle over so you can smell it, and, more likely than not, pour you a taste,” Conrad said.

    Read the full article on the Chicago Tribune's Dining Awards

    read more
  • February 23 2016


    The Duck Inn Featured on WTTW's Check, Please

    Check, Please

    Last Friday, The Duck Inn was proud to be featured on WTTW’s long-running culinary television show, “Check, Please”.

    The Duck Inn is a cozy, retro inspired gastro-tavern located at Loomis Street and the Chicago River. It combines locally sourced dining with creative duck dishes and other American menu items. It has a delicious menu of craft cocktails and local beers.

    Chef Kevin Hickey said, “Everyone comes (to The Duck Inn) looking to have fun.” Each of the “Check, Please” reviewers would agree they had a great time.

    The reviewers loved The Duck Inn’s, “50s mod meets current hipster” atmosphere and the different dining areas that allow for a new dining experience each time you visit.

    The reviewers discussed how The Duck Inn made comfort food elevated yet still approachable. One reviewer, Jen Peterson, said she normally doesn’t like cheese curds but loved how The Duck Inn’s “light and flavorful” take on the comfort food classic.

    Peterson is an Evanston resident but said the Duck Inn is well worth the drive and if you go you can’t miss out on the Rotisserie Duck For Two.

    Alex Rodriguez, the reviewer who chose the Duck Inn for “Check, Please” said the Rotisserie Duck is “gorgeous.” He concluded,”The Duck Inn is what I like about Chicago. It’s modern but it takes dishes that are accessible and takes them to a new level.”

    read more
  • February 8 2016


    The Most Epic Entree in Chicago

    The Chicagoist
    Signature Rotisserie Duck

    The Chicagoist rated the most epic entrees with colossal portions in the city. Of course The Duck Inn’s Rotisserie Duck is doing big portions in a big way, because serving up a full rotisserie duck is no small feat. Its not surprising that people are taking notice of this epic entree on the Bridgeport restaurant’s menu.

    “Crispy skin and juicy meat are the hallmarks of a masterfully cooked duck, and at Kevin Hickey’s Bridgeport darling, that’s exactly what you can expect. In addition to carved duck, the signature board for two sports potatoes saturated in duck drippings, a seasonal salad, and a sizable vessel filled with the remainder of the drippings.”

    Come in and share a rotisserie duck with a friend.

    See the article, here.

  • February 3 2016


    Chicago Tribune Restaurant Week Review

    Chicago Tribune

    The Chicago Tribune’s Marissa Conrad reviewed the Duck Inn for restaurant week and gave a raving review of Chef Kevin Hickeys menu.

    “Duck Inn has proven to me that on a good Restaurant Week menu, you don’t need choices. The chef knows what to feed you, and you trust him or her that it will be good (like any tasting menu, really). Hickey’s menu was, exceptionally so,” Conrad said.

    Conrad highlighted the Duck Inn’s stellar cocktail menu and said, “(Brandon) Phillips couldn’t make a bad drink if you paid him to.”

    Read more of the review, here.

  • February 1 2016


    FYI's Food Porn Visits The Duck Inn

    Food Porn

    The Duck Inn's Duck Fat Hot Dog is featured on FYI's Food Porn.

  • January 25 2016


    South Side Restaurants Worth the Drive: The Duck Inn

    Make It Better Magazine
    Fried Cheese Curds

    Make It Better Magazine editor Julie Chernoff rated Bridgeport’s the Duck Inn as a must visit restaurant on Chicago’s South Side.

    “Everyone’s talking about Kevin Hickey’s latest hotspot, a gasto-pub with seriously delicious food (and another Bib Gourmand winner this year… I told you the South Side was happening!). Not surprisingly, duck features prominently on the menu: Duck Wings with Japanese BBQ Sauce, Shrimp & Duck Spring Rolls, and the show-stopping Rotisserie Duck meant to share. But don’t leave without an order of the Fried Cheese Curds with Bloody Mary Ketchup or the high-end Gyros Plate.”

  • January 22 2016


    Chicago Reader Ranks The Duck Inn on Restaurant Week Favorites List

    Chicago Reader
    Stacks Image 918

    The Chicago Reader ranked the Duck Inn as one of their favorite places to stop by during restaurant week. Chicago Reader contributer Andrea Bauer said, “Ritzy comfort food with zero pretension is the name of the game at Duck Inn.”

    Bauer noted the braised pork belly and crispy chicken thighs as dinner options and mentioned the duck-egg creme brulee with tangerine for dessert. The Duck Inn’s cocktail program was also highlighted as “impressive.”

    Read the full article.


  • December 31 2015


    Kevin Hickey’s Duck Inn Brings Acclaim Back to Bridgeport

    Eater Chicago
    Chef Hickey

    Eater Chicago interviewed the Duck Inn’s head chef/owner Kevin Hickey about the Duck Inn’s inaugural year, the Bridgeport neighborhood, and hopes he has for the future of his restaurant and Bridgeport itself.

    When he opened the Duck Inn, “Hickey finally embraced his roots and passion through a series of chance and fateful encounters that resulted in the opening of his first restaurant a year ago mere doors down from his longtime ancestry, Daniel Gerzina, Eater Chicago editor, said.”

    This is more than a restaurant. This is an attempt to bring attention to a great neighborhood that has massive potential. The more guys that want to come down here and open bars and restaurants the better, Hickey said.

    Red the full article here.

  • December 31 2015


    Chicago Reader Features The Duck Inn on Best of 2015 List

    Chicago Reader
    Anton Chigurh Cocktail

    Mike Sula named The Duck Inn’s Chicago dog, baked Alaska, and Anton Chigurh cocktail, as the third, fourth and fifth of the 181 best things he ate and drank in 2015. Sula said, ” It’s really a return of a chef who is of the place and knows just how a new restaurant should fit in.”

    Read Mike Sula's "181 best things I ate and drank in 2015."

  • December 18 2015


    Chicago Tribune Features The Duck Inn’s Rotisserie Duck a Best Dish of 2015

    Chicago Tribune - Phil Vettel
    Signature Rotisserie Duck

    Scrolling through our clips and notebooks to recall the year’s most impressive dishes isn’t an easy task — we do a lot of eating each year, and most of it is pretty good — but it’s one of our most pleasant end-of-year chores. Every dish on this list represents excellence in concept, quality and execution.

    There are good ducks (several candidates), there are great ducks (Sun Wah, for example) and then there’s a duck for the ages, which is what you get when you order the rotisserie duck at Kevin Hickey’s intimate Bridgeport restaurant. It’s a whole duck, priced for two ($62) and served, cut up, on a large wooden serving board. You could argue that Hickey cheats a bit by roasting the breast meat separately, but there’s no quibbling with the results: perfect medium-rare breast, leg and thigh portions with crispy, almost blackened skin and welcome accompaniments (duck-fat-cooked potatoes, fat-tossed greens, gooseberry vinaigrette). No wonder you have to pre-order this dish (when you make or confirm your reservation) to be sure you’ll get one.

    Read the full article, here.

  • December 14 2015


    The Infatuation Names The Duck Inn a Best New Restaurant of 2015

    The Infatuation
    Tom & Jerry Cocktail

    There were a lot of new restaurants that opened this year. Like, a lot, a lot. It feels like half of them opened within the last few weeks, so we’re going to let some settle in before we consider them for best new 2016 accolades. Randolph Street got a slew of new restaurants, which is no surprise, but there were also some hidden gems that popped up in neighborhoods you wouldn’t expect them to.

    From casual ramen, to new-age steakhouses, to the sexiest cafe ever in a 54,000 square foot furniture store that we’re still coming to terms with, 2015 was a good year. But like everything in life, some are better than others, and a few in particular deserve the highest praise.

    These are the best new Chicago restaurants of 2015. Either you had a good year eating, or you know where to start in 2016.

    The Duck Inn put Bridgeport on the map for destination dining. You can come hang in the front bar area with cocktails and elevated bar snacks, but what makes this place great is the more intimate dining room in the back. The space is small, but it’s a lively and cool place to hang that’s all capped off by impressive food. The rotisserie duck is a must.

    Read the full article, here.

  • December 9 2015


    The Duck Inn's Brunch Featured by Zagat

    Chai Bread Puding French Toast

    Every weekend we wake up with one question on our mind: what’s for brunch? For those who worship at the Sunday pancake altar, Chicago’s options are seemingly endless. We picked through the syrupy stack to come up with the short list of hottest brunch options.

    The Bridgeport brunch options have vastly improved with the addition of this Sunday spread by chef Kevin Hickey. His menu features sweet corn funnel cake with blueberries, Maryland crab crêpe with Calabrian chile hollandaise and chai bread pudding French toast with English treacle. Since this menu would not be complete without a duck offering, meet the duck confit hash with a duck egg and Wisconsin cheese mornay sauce.

    Read more here.

  • December 9 2015


    Duck Inn’s Duck Fat Dog One of 100 Best Dishes in Chicago, Says Time Out

    Time Out
    Duck Fat Dog

    Chicago’s burger craze continued this year, and two very different burgers made our list. But this list is about more than just beef—we loved the smoked tofu sandwich at Smalls Smoke Shack & More, fell for the duck fat dog at the Duck Inn, easily one of the best hot dogs in Chicago, and added a newcomer to our list of the best lobster rolls.These are the best burgers and sandwiches of the year.

    The star of Kevin Hickey’s menu is the duck fat dog, a juicy duck and beef sausage, dragged through the garden and topped with house-made pickles. $10.

    Read more

  • November 16 2015


    The Duck Inn Named Restaurant of the Year in Chicago by Eater

    The Duck Inn exterior

    It’s not easy being the restaurant poster child for one of Chicago’s classic working-class neighborhoods, but creative everyman chef Kevin Hickey and an unlikely partnership with the Rockit Ranch group leaped over the bar by both reigniting south-side Bridgeport and creating one delicious restaurant with The Duck Inn. Inside the century-old 1960s-decorated restaurant lies something for nearly everyone, most notably amped-up twists on Chicago street food (including one of the best hot dogs in years) and one of the city’s top up-and-coming cocktail minds.

    Read more here.

  • October 22 2015


    Michelin Awards The Duck Inn a Bib Gourmand

    Crain's Dining
    Duck Inn Dining Room

    Excerpt via Peter Frost of Crain's Dining

    For the second year in a row, Michelin trimmed its list of Chicago restaurants honored with Bib Gourmand designations for 2016, reducing the number of restaurants to receive the designation to 58. The sixth annual Bib Gourmands, which are released a week in advance of the guide, are awarded to restaurants that deliver quality food for an affordable price (two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less, excluding tax and tip).

    Ten Chicago restaurants earned Bib Gourmand recognition for the first time, while 11 fell from the list, compiled by the “famously anonymous” inspectors employed by the French tire manufacturer and travel guide publisher. Fifty-nine were honored in Michelin’s 2015 guide, and 69 earned accolades in 2014.

    Among the newly honored restaurants are Kevin Hickey’s Bridgeport restaurant The Duck Inn, which also was named this month as
    one of Esquire magazine’s top new restaurants in America.

    “There’s no higher compliment, if you ask me,” said Hickey of The Duck Inn, who in the past was awarded with two consecutive stars for his work at Seasons, the former fine-dining spot in the Four Seasons. The Duck Inn, a personal project that opened in December 2014 in the neighborhood in which Hickey grew up, balances a fine-dining menu with offbeat items like a $10 hot dog and a $3 can of Hamm’s beer.

    “Part of me would have loved to get a star, but I would have greatly feared it,” Hickey said. “I don’t want to alienate anyone in this neighborhood. To me, this says we’re doing exceptional food” in an accessible setting. “I couldn’t be more happy.”

    read more
  • October 13 2015


    Esquire Names The Duck Inn One of 14 Best New Restaurants in America


    Chicagoans expect the unexpected in Fulton Market, the old meatpacking district. They expect only the familiar in Chinatown, because they rarely venture past their favorite dim-sum places. They don't expect much of anything in the South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport beyond a decent bar after a White Sox game. Three new Chicago restaurants defy expectations.

    The Duck Inn

    For nearly a century, the Gem-Bar Lounge served a neighborhood of cops and South Side politicos. Chef Kevin Hickey grew up nearby and traveled the world before buying and renaming the tavern. The back patio is where you want to be, with the rotisserie duck For two, heaped on a platter with duck-fat potatoes.

    Read the full article here.

  • September 18 2015


    Regis Tries The Duck Inn's Chicago Dog


    Regis tries Chicago- style dogs from Hot Doug’s & The Duck Inn.

  • July 15 2015


    Zagat Names Duck Inn One of Chicago’s Best Beer Gardens

    Duck Inn Garden

    This secluded backyard, complete with vegetable and herb gardens, is the perfect place to enjoy a pint of the restaurant’s latest collaboration beer. The sun-soaked space also hosts regular events, such as a salmon bake and pizza party.

    Drink This: Begyle You Lika Da Juice? Apple Ale
    Eat This: Hamburger sandwich

    Read more here.

  • May 27 2015


    Thrillist: The Duck Inn a "Best Restaurant and Bar in Chicago Right Now"

    Duck Fat Dog

    What you’re getting: Fried cheese curds and rotisserie duck

    From upmarket bar snacks like fried cheese curds splashed with Bloody Mary ketchup and hoppy mayo, to date-night approved rotisserie duck for two, Kevin Hickey’s latest gastro-tavern concept offers more than a few reasons to believe that Bridgeport is the next up-and-coming dining scene.

    Read more here.

  • May 13 2015


    The Duck Inn Featured on the Eater Chicago Cocktail Heatmap

    Eater Chicago
    The Duck out Cocktail

    More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I drink right now? While the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering standbys and neighborhood essential restaurants across the city and the Eater Heatmap highlights where the restaurant crowds are flocking to at the moment, the Eater Chicago Cocktail Heatmap shows the bars and restaurants where cocktail and beer aficionados are drinking right now. The updated map shows you the hottest drinking spots this spring.

    Bridgeport is not only home to Kevin Hickey’s neighborhood restaurant revival, but also an outstanding bar program from barman Brandon Phillips, who also spearheaded the drinks at Rockit Ranch’s Bottlefork.

  • May 1 2015


    Time Out Names The Duck Inn One of the Best Burgers in Chicago

    Time Out
    Hamburger Sandwich

    The Hamburger Sandwich at The Duck Inn, $12.

    Duck Inn chef Kevin Hickey is a master of bar food, and it only takes one bite of his hamburger sandwich to know it. With a healthy dose of grilled onions and a squeaky slice of Brun-uusto cheese, this is a soul-satisfying patty melt.—AC

    See the rest of Time Out's list here.

  • April 17 2015


    RedEye Features The Duck Inn Patio Opening this Spring


    Head out the back door of this Bridgeport bar and restaurant to discover a pair of hidden outdoor retreats. The porch, which seats 16 to 18, is an extension of the dining room and will serve a similar menu. Step downward from there into the backyard, where more casual seating for 45 will share space with chef/partner Kevin Hickey’s garden plots growing swiss chard, kale and tomatoes.

    Look out for special events throughout the summer, Hickey said, such as a luau night with a pig roast and tiki drinks. Bonus for bike-riders: Look for the custom bike rack out front that Hickey commissioned from a local metal artist, plus the new Divvy station a couple of blocks away at Archer Avenue and Loomis Street.

    ETA: Open now, weather permitting
    We’re picturing: Making a pitstop to down duck-fat dogs en route to a Sox game

    Read more here.

  • April 13 2015


    21 Hottest Burgers: The Duck Inn’s Hamburger Sandwich

    Eater Chicago

    Kevin Hickey’s Duck Inn has been well-received by critics and lauded for its rotisserie duck but the rest of the menu is just as good. Not to be overshadowed by all of the fowl options available, the hamburger sandwich makes a compelling case for itself. Made with Tallgrass Beef, the patty melt and all of its ingredients (Brun Uusto cheese, dijonnaise) are cooked at the same time on the grill. Best of all it’s available on the bar menu so even if you can’t get a table for dinner, you can go home satisfied.

  • April 7 2015


    Zagat Says The Duck Inn Where to Dine After Watching the White Sox

    Fried Cheese Curds

    Just a little further away is Kevin Hickey’s The Duck Inn where you can dine on hamburger sandwiches and sloe gin fizzes up front in the bar, or sit down for a full meal of duck for two in the dining room. This summer, the backyard patio will be the place to cool off after a hot game of baseball.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • March 28 2015


    Three Stars for The Duck Inn, Says WGN's Phil Vettel

    WGN TV

    Three stars (excellent) for the Bridgeport newcomer.

  • March 23 2015


    Chicago Magazine Calls Duck Inn a “Cozy, Personal Gem”

    Chicago Magazine
    Stacks Image 450

    Until recently, the litmus test for neighborhood restaurants was always clear: Would you want it on your corner?

    But that’s no longer enough. Now we’ve got polished taverns on every block. Farm-to-table and tail-to-snout places where the chef studied with Heston Blumenthal and has an entire chapter of Larousse Gastronomique tattooed on his forearm. Places with $55 tasting menus, craft cocktails by a mustache-twirling mixologist, and 150 beers no one’s ever heard of. How on earth does a neighborhood restaurant distinguish itself anymore?

    The answer may lie on a quiet bungalow-lined stretch of Bridgeport. That’s where Michelin-starred chef Kevin Hickey (Four Seasons hotels) grew up, and he returned there to launch the Duck Inn this past winter. Hickey’s “gastrotavern” takes its name from the joint his great-grandmother owned in McKinley Park in the 1930s, but otherwise it proudly goes its own way.

    Read the rest of the article and view the video here.

  • March 18 2015


    Chicago Tribune Reviews The Duck Inn

    Chicago Tribune
    Stacks Image 473

    For a restaurant that’s been open a little more than three months, The Duck Inn has deep roots.

    The Bridgeport restaurant, created in December by chef Kevin Hickey (as part of his partnership with Rockit Ranch Productions), occupies a corner tavern that predates Prohibition. It takes its name from a Depression-era lunch counter, at Ashland Avenue and 35th Street, that was run by Hickey’s great-grandmother. Hickey himself is a sixth-generation Bridgeporter and has been angling to open an upscale restaurant here for several years.

    Hickey’s menu, tightly focused because of the building’s tiny kitchen, is itself an homage to the neighborhood and its history. Polish and Lithuanian influences pop up here and there, and a few dishes seem inspired by Wisconsin vacation memories.

    And of course, there is duck, and of course, it must be ordered. In fact, it’s a very good idea to order it before you arrive, because the kitchen does run out.

    It’s a whole duck, sized and priced for two ($58), and there might not be a better bird in Chicago. It’s served in disjointed pieces on a large wood carving board. This is a duck for the ages; the breast meat is a perfect medium rare, the leg and thigh portions boast crispy, almost blackened skins (a final flash in the oven accounts for the crispy finish) and the accompaniments — roasted potatoes with duck-fat drippings, winter greens tossed in hot fat, citrus-laced jus served in a metal pitcher — just add to the brilliance.

    So, you’re having the duck. What else? For starters, there are beautiful spot prawns, laid across aged risotto fortified with a little uni butter (the star of the dish) and a rather cheffy composition of pureed and roasted sunchoke, presented artfully with chanterelle mushrooms, tiny coins of white truffle and upright pieces of superthin rye crisp.

    And then it’s back to duck: potted foie gras topped with a thin layer of loganberry jam, with puffy house-made English muffins for spreading; and a lightly poached duck egg (looking like a Chinese dumpling) over baby kale, sprinkled with shaved grana padano cheese and breadcrumbs.

    Other entrees stick to a comfort-food formula. There’s a very good slow-cooked, mustard-glazed pork shoulder with celery-root puree, available a la carte or as part of The Duck Inn’s tasting menu (a four-course bargain at $55).

    Hearty brined chicken thigh with kielbasa, braised cabbage, pretzel spaetzle and smoked paprika sauce is a virtual Eastern European tour; and truffled short ribs with whipped potatoes and pomegranate sauce is an ideal winter dish.

    The most popular dessert is the sticky toffee pudding, alongside a giant quenelle of rum-laced Chantilly cream; it’s every bit as gooey and rich as you’d expect.

    There’s also a chocolate beignet with a chocolate ganache filling over roasted banana anglaise, and that’s a rich and satisfying proposition as well.

    My tastes run to the more unusual offerings, such as the light-on-the-tongue carrot and olive oil cake with cara-cara orange sauce and cream cheese ice cream, and some of the inventive ice cream flavors, including parsnip (extremely good, trust me) and beet-and-blood-orange sorbet (which is dazzling).

    The restaurant has only 40 seats, divided between the ’60s-look front room (which includes a very cool retro bar) and the brick-lined main dining room, which includes a mural by local artist Erik Debat that depicts an under-water-level view of a swimming duck (known as the “duck butt” among the staffers). Eagle-eyed service is quick, personable and knows a thing or two about The Duck Inn’s surprisingly hefty wine list.

    And on one of my visits, former mayor Richard M. Daley was entertaining at the adjoining table. So Bridgeport royalty knows about the place.

    Cocktails are run by Brandon Phillips, the former mixologist at The Drawing Room who’s responsible for, among other things, the smoke-filled Brandy & Cigars cocktail at Bottlefork (another Hickey-Rockit creation).

    Memorable drinks at The Duck Inn include the Hackney Handshake, a formidable gin concoction that won Phillips the Beefeater International Global Bartender competition last year, the Duck Out, which incorporates creme de mure, sherry, five-spice syrup and duck-infused cognac (a tad sweet for my taste, but a fine after-dinner drink) and a blend of bourbon and orange cream soda (custom-made for Hickey by Filbert’s, in Bridgeport) called Drunk a L’Orange, a $7 bargain.

    The bar snacks are good enough to justify arriving early.

    There are batter-fried cheese curds, appropriately squeaky, with bloody mary-spiced ketchup and hoppy mayo (hops-infused mayo, striped over the curds); spicy Buffalo-style chicken thigh with blue cheese fondue and a duck-meat-stuffed tamale topped with foie gras cubes, topped by fennel-orange pico de gallo.

    The “hamburger sandwich,” a patty melt with Tallgrass beef, Dijonaise and Brun-uusto cheese on rye, is an homage to the 5-cent menu feature at the original Duck Inn.

    The dining room is closed Sundays and Mondays, but paradoxically, that’s a good time to visit. The bar remains open, and the snacks menu remains available, along with a few specials that Hickey whips up for just those days.

    If you want to sample, oh, his duck-egg carbonara, or Buffalo duck wings, Sunday and Monday are your only opportunities.

    Watch Phil Vettel’s reviews weekends on WGN-Ch. 9’s “News at Nine” and on CLTV.

    Check out the original article

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  • February 23 2015


    Duck Inn Bartender Named Female Bartender You Need to Know in Chicago

    Chicago Magazine
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    Monika Hartmanowski

    • Where to find her: The Duck Inn
    • Specialty: The Bijou (classic mix of gin, vermouth, and chartreuse) or anything with gin
    • What she’s doing when she’s not working: Creating terrariums (miniature plants in glass vessels) and imbibing Wild Turkey.
    • Favorite thing about Chicago: Its food, drinks, music, art, the beach… basically, everything.

  • February 3 2015


    The Duck Inn Named One of Chicago’s Hottest Bars by Zagat

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    Why It’s Hot: Chef Kevin Hickey returns to his Bridgeport roots with this ’60s-inspired restaurant and bar that honors his family’s history in the neighborhood. It’s named after an establishment once owned by his great-grandmother, and he’s re-created classics that appeared on her menu, such as the hamburger sandwich and Tom Tom tamale, alongside craft cocktails and an impressive beer list.

    Must-Drink: Sloe(r) Gin(ier) Fizz (Plymouth sloe gin, Beefeater, Small Hands almond orgeat, lemon juice, powdered sugar, egg white and soda)

    Insider Tip: Every Monday, bring your own vinyl, and they will play them on the vintage record player.

  • January 22 2015


    Chicago Magazine Claims “The Duck Inn is a Throwback Worth Seeking Out”

    Chicago Magazine
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    Why It’s Hot: Chef Kevin Hickey returns to his Bridgeport roots with this ’60s-inspired restaurant and bar that honors his family’s history in the neighborhood. It’s named after an establishment once owned by his great-grandmother, and he’s re-created classics that appeared on her menu, such as the hamburger sandwich and Tom Tom tamale, alongside craft cocktails and an impressive beer list.

    Must-Drink: Sloe(r) Gin(ier) Fizz (Plymouth sloe gin, Beefeater, Small Hands almond orgeat, lemon juice, powdered sugar, egg white and soda)

    Insider Tip: Every Monday, bring your own vinyl, and they will play them on the vintage record player.

  • January 7 2015


    Tasting Table Knows What to Order at The Duck Inn

    Tasting Table
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    Last we checked, Bridgeport wasn’t exactly overwhelming eaters with its abundance of destination-worthy restaurants. But The Duck Inn, a new gastro-tavern from Bridgeport native Kevin Hickey (Bottlefork) and Rockit Ranch Productions (Bottlefork, Sunda, Rockit Burger Bar) is out to change that.

    The original Duck Inn tavern was owned and operated by Hickey’s great-grandmother; Hickey’s version (located nearby) in many ways pays homage to the first, with two separate, midcentury modern-themed spaces split by French doors. The first is a lively bar area accented with handsome glass light fixtures, the second a 44-seat dining room embellished with a massive mural of a swimming duck painted from an underwater perspective.

    The cocktail menu includes a surprisingly well-balanced Duck Out ($14) made with duck-fat-washed Park VS cognac, Giffard Crème de Mûre, sherry and Chinese five-spice syrup, and the robust bourbon-based Don ($14), finished with a dash of chocolate bitters.

    Hickey’s bar menu is packed with upmarket versions of retro favorites, like fried cheese curds ($8) paired with a hoppy mayo and perfectly acidic Bloody Mary ketchup, and a buffalo chorizo chicken thigh ($9) with piquillo pepper and blue cheese fondue. But the real standout is an eye-popping, jaw-unhinging duck-fat dog ($10), a beef-and-duck-stuffed tube steak stacked precariously with all the traditional Chicago-style trimmings (onion, tomato, relish, sport peppers, mustard and house-made pickle).

    The dining room menu is a bit more refined but still exhibits some of the playfulness of the bar offerings. Seafood fans should zero in on the spot prawns ($16) set atop risotto infused with uni butter, eucalyptus and sea beans, while the rotisserie duck for two ($58) makes good on the restaurant’s name. The whole juicy bird is enveloped in a neatly crisped skin and served with duck dripping potatoes and a winter salad tossed with vibrant blood oranges and pomegranate seeds.

    Cap off the meal with chocolate beignets ($9) gussied up with a roasted banana anglaise and peanut butter ice cream, just big enough to sate a sweet tooth without inducing a sugar coma.

    Bridgeport, we’ll be back.

    Read the full article at Tasting Table,

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  • January 7 2015

    Your Label

    Huffington Post: Chef Kevin Hickey Gives Bridgeport Some Foodie Love with The Duck Inn

    Huffington Post
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    I have been watching the career of Chef Kevin Hickey for a while. At first I was surprised when I learned that he was leaving The Four Seasons hotel restaurant, The Allium, to start the low-key, belly-up-to-the bar joint, Bottlefork. Then I visited Bottlefork–packed to the gills on a week night at 9 p.m.–and realized he wasn’t crazy. He was crazy like a fox.

    'You want to do something that is accessible, something that can reach as many people as possible, ' Hickey told me.

    Chef Hickey isn’t the only one to bring small farm-focused plates and gourmand combinations to a bar-type setting. Gastropubs and upscale, foodie bar food is increasingly common. But Hickey’s culinary voice in this arena has been large and profound, offering things you’ve had before like you’ve never had them before. Take Octopus and Housemade Spam ($21) with Brussels Sprout “Kim Chee” and Sugar Snap Peas or Warm Pumpkin Cheesecake–more like warm soft-serve pudding–as examples of many.

    And Hickey is serious about bringing accessible, high quality, creative food to as many people as possible. As Director of Food and Beverage for Rockit Ranch Productions, he just opened The Duck Inn, something near and dear to his heart, in Bridgeport. Hickey is from Bridgeport, and God knows Bridgeport is a food desert in desperate need of some foodie love.

    At The Duck Inn, Hickey has, of course, duck dishes, like his award-winning Duck Hot Dog. However, he also has items like Braised Brisket from grass-fed Tallgrass Beef, intent on educating people from all over the city, not just downtown in posh hotels, about the kinds of foods we eat and how they are grown, raised and sourced.

    In an interesting dialogue caught below on camera for the upcoming January 12th Dinner Party, Hickey speaks with Tallgrass Beef Rancher and Anchorman Bill Kurtis about the difference between corn-fed beef and grass-fed beef and the omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients that come from grass-fed beef. Who knew? Hickey has more than just great food up his sleeve.

    Enjoy the videos below of Chef Kevin Hickey in his kitchen only days after the opening of The Duck Inn in Bridgeport. He makes Clam Stew with homemade Oyster Crackers and Braised Brisket from Tallgrass Beef in preparation for January 12.

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  • December 22 2014

    Your Label

    Gapers Block: There’s No Quackery at the New Duck Inn

    Gapers Block
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    Kevin Hickey, the Four Seasons Hotel veteran and executive chef behind Bottlefork and Rockit Ranch Productions, likely never imagined as he was playing Atari as a kid at the Gem Tavern in Bridgeport that he’d be re-opening its doors as a chef decades later under the name Duck Inn. And neighborhood residents likely never thought that what was once a casual tavern would house a dining and drinking experience where you could find something that is normally found north of the river.

    But that’s exactly what happened earlier this month when the pre-Prohibition neighborhood tavern reopened in Bridgeport on the corner of Loomis and Eleanor, across from the Chicago River, featuring New American cuisine, craft beer and cocktails and, well, as you’d might guess, duck.

    The space, although made contemporary with a Sixties-esque flair and modern design — mostly reflected in the lighting hardware — has kept a lot of its architecture and blueprint, including the original wood floors in the dining room and brick walls.

    'The dining area used to be the Gembara’s home,' said Hickey. 'The bar was in front and they lived in the back.'

    Now, a four-top sits where there might have once been a bed.

    Behind the dining room, a future beer garden, where it is reported that Chef plans to also grow tomatoes for you to pick for your dish, will likely make a best beer garden list in the future if you’re willing to go to Bridgeport.

    In what may be the Duck Inn’s signature drink, duck fat makes an appearance in the Duck Out — a cognac, Chinese five-spice syrup and sherry cocktail infused with the essence of the duck fat drippings from the slowly cooked rotisserie duck. Upon first glance on paper, it’s not an inviting cocktail, and the duck fat is highly present on the nose, but the sherry and five-spice round it out for a rich, balanced drink. It also comes with a candied duck-shaped orange peel as garnish, which comes off as whimsically clever versus the kitsch that could happen with these sort of thematic details.

    The menu is divided between bar menu and dining menu and you can unfortunately only get one or the other. The dining menu, which represents the more classically trained side of Hickey’s point of view, is smaller than most with only six items — three starters such as potted foie gras and spot prawns with risotto, which is garnished a single fried prawn head worth talking about, and three entrees, including lemon sole and braised brisket. A rotisserie roasted duck for two that you can see spinning in the kitchen is available first come, first serve, and there’s also a four-course tasting menu, with or without wine or beer pairings. Although pricier than may be expected for the area, the by-the-glass wine menu ranging from $7-$9 helps offset some of those costs.

    The more casual experience of the front bar offers chef driven comfort food with bites such as cheese curds and a duck and foie tamale and feels like a place you’d want to saddle up to and keep the beers flowing on a cold, winter day, including some of chef’s own collaborations like the Une Année Waterzooi (Flemish for chicken stew and a nod to the wild chicken that hung out at the brewery when the two were collaborating) Saison launching on tap today.

    Duck Inn continues the tradition of a part of Bridgeport history, this time with a little more flair, a lot more flavor.

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  • December 15 2014

    Your Label

    Chef Kevin Hickey Discusses The Duck Inn’s Roots in Bridgeport

    Chicago Reader
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    The Duck Inn, a tavern and restaurant in Bridgeport that opened last week, is the latest place from Rockit Ranch, the restaurant and bar group led by TV personality and symbol-of-the-party-lifestyle Billy Dec. The Duck Inn is also the culmination of some lifelong dreams and ambitions for chef Kevin Hickey: owning a restaurant on the very street where he grew up in Bridgeport, named for a place his great-grandmother owned during the Depression, that’s rooted in his family’s history in one of Chicago’s most insular enclaves, the ancient power base of our Irish rulers.

    I met with Hickey, the former Michelin-starred chef who spent almost 20 years with the company that owns the Four Seasons Hotels in places all around the world, to find out more about how his desire to return to his roots was accomplished through what seems like unlikely partners. And tomorrow, he and I will talk about that.

    But first we started talking about his old neighborhood. If you’re going to understand the Duck Inn, one of the most deeply rooted and personal restaurant concepts to open in Chicago in ages, you have to start with Bridgeport itself.

    Michael Gebert: So, the Duck Inn, here we are. Tell me about the original Duck Inn.

    Kevin Hickey: I’ll tell you what I know, because as far as I know there’s only one person left that I can talk to who was ever there, and that’s my Aunt Mary. She came in for dinner last Saturday, and her husband was the little boy in the photograph that’s on the back of our menu.

    My great-grandfather, James Hickey, in the Depression, he was the third generation in the family business. They had a trucking and car business that had sort of become a funeral business. And he died, and he was pretty young, and they had seven kids. So when he died my great-grandmother Grace lost the business—she couldn’t run it because she didn’t have the license. So she sold it and the only thing she knew how to do was cook. So they owned property at 35th and Ashland, and she opened a bus stop diner and called it the Duck Inn.

    She ran it for somewhere from five to ten years. And she made the money back—she made enough money to put my grandfather, who was the oldest, through school and to get the license—and she bought the business back. Then she sold the restaurant to a new bicycle shop called Kozy’s, and that was where they started. They were at 35th and Ashland until the 80s—I bought all my bikes there as a kid.

    It was just a simple diner, you can tell by the one photograph, the signs on the wall say “Hamburger Sandwich, 5 cents” and “Spaghetti Dinner” and “Tom-Tom Tamales.” But it was always a family story about how Grandma Grace had a restaurant called the Duck Inn, and it stuck in my mind that someday I would open a place called the Duck Inn. And a lot of things about this location lent themselves to naming it the Duck Inn, everything from the fact that we’re two blocks from where my great-grandmother lived, to being on the river and there’s a lot of wildlife along the river. I’ve seen everything from ducks, geese, coyotes, possums, foxes, everything along the river.

    There’s the whole family connection—not just my family living in this neighborhood for five, six generations, and I live a block away now, but the family that owned this bar lived in it for somewhere around 85 years. Those glass doors that go into the dining room, those weren’t there ten years ago—that was a wall. Everything after that was their home.

    What was this called?

    It was always some reference to the family name which was Gembara. So it was Gembara’s Lounge, then it became Herman’s, and at some point it morphed into the Gem-Bar. That was after me, in the last 15 years. But it was always owned by that family, going back to 1916 or 1918. They opened pre-Prohibition, because there’s a trap door behind the bar. The owner, his name wasn’t Herman, it was Eugene, but they called him Herman the German because he killed a lot of Germans in the war or something.

    There’s a great picture in this book on Bridgeport history of one of the daughters holding, like, an unexploded artillery shell in the backyard. Where our patio is now. So now I’m going to have to call it the Bomb Shelter or something, because that picture is so awesome—she’s eight years old and cradling this artillery shell like it’s a teddy bear or something.

    So what was this area, this little strip right above the river?

    The location, this whole area down to the next block, was known as Lee’s Place, which apparently was a farm that supplied all the vegetables to Fort Dearborn. The owner, Lee, was a soldier who was killed in the Fort Dearborn Massacre [in 1812]. Later this section of Bridgeport was known as Hardscrabble. There was a footbridge at the end of Eleanor Street at Ashland, and all the tugs and barges that were bringing cattle to the stockyards had to portage around, basically had to unload here and reload on the other side, so that was the original “bridge port.”

    The street wouldn’t have been Eleanor then. It’s been a street for a very long time, but my whole time, growing up on the street, it was really not recognized by the city as a street, so we had no curbs, we had no sewer—we had cinder in our front parkway and the alleys, so wiping out on your bike as a kid was absolute torture.

    It was very industrial. We had a wrecking company across the street, we had Holsum Bread at the end of the street, we had semis going up and down the street all day and night. It was rough. It was more like an alley or a throughway for trucks up until the Depression, when the WPA put in gravel to make it a shortcut to . . . there used to be a massive coal pile, probably five or six stories high, on the river. My grandfather used to have the job at one point of just shoveling coal with a wheelbarrow there, all day long.

    Somewhere around the 90s my dad and a lot of other people lobbied the city and got curbs put in and got it paved nicely. I don’t know when it became Eleanor, it was Eleanor when my dad moved in in ’62. But it was named for the first Mayor Daley’s wife, Eleanor “Sis” Daley—her brother, Tom Guilfoyle, was our neighbor my whole childhood. I never knew it was named for her until an article came out about the park that’s coming in at the end of the street—we’re getting a spectacular park with boat launches and bike paths designed by Jeanne Gang, and that’s going to be Eleanor Park.

    I guess the neighborhood has evolved a little from coal pile to hip nightspots, then.

    It’s been a long evolution. But it’s a great neighborhood in a lot of ways—it has a lot of history, and a lot of the people who made that history have stayed and gone on to be very successful. Or they came back, like myself. I was gone from the neighborhood from, probably, 17 when I went to college, and I didn’t move back until I was 38 years old. I lived all over the world, and all over Chicago, before deciding to come back.

    Also, the location. When I first started this project two or three years ago, when I was looking for investors, they’d be, “Where is it? Oh, that’s so far away.” It’s not. I can get to Bottlefork, at 441 N. Clark, in ten minutes. You can’t get from Logan Square to River North in ten minutes. We knew that growing up, take the Bridgeport expressway, which is Canal street, and you’re downtown in seconds.

    And you’ve got Chinatown right next to us, Greektown, Little Italy—all that had a big effect on me growing up as far as how I cook and the flavors I look for. I’ve been classified as modern American, new American, which is great because to me, what American is about these days is Chinese, Greek, Italian—all those things I grew up with.

    You were interested in food from a young age?

    I was cooking at home from a very young age. My mom worked when she and my dad split up—she worked in politics and it’s not that she was a bad cook. She doesn’t cook ever. So she’d leave money for my sister, who was older, and me and say, “Order pizza, order Chinese, whatever you want.” So my sister would say “Cook us something” and then she’d pocket the money. So I’d tear through the cabinets and make things, it started with doctoring cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli with granulated garlic and dried oregano.

    It’s interesting that you say you had those influences so early, because I think people often think of Bridgeport as having been this isolated Irish enclave that kept Chinatown at bay…]

    Yeah. Though Chinatown kind of carved itself out of Bridgeport. There’s just one Italian restaurant in Chinatown, Bertucci’s. Which is a great old tavern-restaurant which is fun to hang out in, and that’s right in Chinatown. That’s “da udder side,” as they say here—the other side of Halsted. Or as Mayor Daley said to me, that’s “New Bridgeport.” That was annexed 100 years ago—it was originally called Germantown. It had a huge German population, Lithuanian population . . .

    You know, I made a movie about the last Lithuanian restaurant, Healthy Foods, when it was closing…

    I tried to buy that place! I’m related to the owner, by marriage. There are still places like that that have been around forever, like Ricobene’s—though up until the 80s or 90s or something, it was just a window. You got your food and you could sit on the curb or a stoop, or you took it home.

    And now it’s like the commissary for city workers.

    I always call it the safest restaurant in Chicago, because everyone in there is armed. My wife gives me a hard time when she sees it on the debit card, “why’d you go to Ricobene’s?” Because there’s nothing open on my way home at 1 AM. It’s still like an initiation for my guys—go have the breaded steak sandwich and they’re like … “OHHH MY GAWD.”

    And then Bridgeport Bakery is a great staple: we buy their croissants to make our apple-parsnip Brown Betty. The thing I love about them, when I was originally going to get the croissants, I told my chef Aaron to go buy their day-old ones. And they said, what day-old croissants? We don’t have anything left over, why would we make it if we’re not going to sell it? I guess there’s a reason they’ve been in business for 80 years.

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  • December 11 2014


    The Duck Inn is Exactly What Bridgeport Has Been Yearning For

    Tasting Table
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    Opening of the week: The Duck Inn

    The latest restaurant from Rockit Ranch Productions and chef Kevin Hickey (Bottlefork), The Duck Inn is exactly what the Bridgeport neighborhood has been yearning for. Kitschy elements such as 1960s-era car ads, record players and furniture give the restaurant a retro-chic feel, while the eclectic menu offers fresh takes on American fare: fried cheese curds with Bloody Mary ketchup and hoppy mayo ($8), duck and foie tamales with fennel orange pico de gallo ($14) and Nantucket lemon sole ($22).

  • December 11 2014


    Duck Inn Opens in Bridgeport: What to Eat and Drink

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    The latest from the Rockit Ranch team is not another bumping club like The Underground nor a rowdy sports bar serving deep-fried mac burgers like Rockit Burger Bar. Rather, it’s an upscale tavern on a quiet corner of Bridgeport. RR team member Kevin Hickey, a Bridgeport native who grew up playing video games in the former Gem Bar, purchased the space and renamed it The Duck Inn, after another neighborhood watering hole opened by his great-grandmother in 1935.

    A photo hanging on the wall of that bar, depicting various food items, also provided inspiration for Hickey’s bar menu. There’s a hamburger sandwich with Brun Uusto cheese, a tamale filled with duck and foie gras and a hot dog infused with duck fat. Bar manager Brendan Phillips stirs up an inspired cocktail menu, which includes The Duck Out (duck-fat-washed Park VS Cognac, Giffard Crème de Mure, Lustao Manzanilla Sherry and Chinese five-spice syrup) and Drunk a L’Orange (Evan Williams Bourbon and Filbert’s Duck a L’Orange orange cream soda). Yes, there are a lot of duck references, right down to the duck-shaped orange garnishes on the cocktails.

    In the dining room, a more substantial menu of modern American fare is served — including rotisserie duck for two and Nantucket lemon sole. The room is comfortable with retro touches, in the form of midcentury furniture and exposed-brick walls — one of which is painted with, yup, a wild duck. The bar has a similar throwback vibe with gold vinyl booths and barstools as well as vintage glassware.

    Read the full article.

  • December 3 2014

    Your Label

    Chef Kevin Hickey Says "Bridgeport is Ready" for The Duck Inn

    DNA Info
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    The inspiration for the Duck Inn, the new 1960s-style tavern serving gourmet food, isn’t necessarily steeped somewhere in the memory of revered chef and neighborhood native Kevin Hickey.

    Sure, the name resurrects Hickey’s great grandmother’s short-lived, Depression-era lunch counter at 35th and Ashland. And of course he remembers the Gem Bar, the long-shuttered corner tavern at 2701 S. Eleanor St. that Hickey and his pals at the Rockit Ranch group have renovated.

    In fact, it’s just down the street from where he was raised. He was close with the Gembara family who ran the place. Played ball with the kids.

    But Hickey, 45, said inspiration for the new “gastrotavern” comes from a recent visit to Roberta’s, an out-of-the-way Brooklyn restaurant making a strong case that humble and high-end can live on the same menu.

    If it can exist on the outskirts of Brooklyn, why not in Bridgeport?

    “The people who have been living here either their whole lives or generations, are people like me … and I think there’s new people here too looking for something new, something different, something that’s not the same. I’m not going to say better or anything like that, because I eat in Bridgeport all the time.

    “The problem is now I’m running out of places to go. That’s been one of the problems in Bridgeport, there’s not a lot of choices. But it’s a bit better than when I was a kid,” Hickey said.

    Decked out in “Mad Men”-esque mid-century modern flourishes, The Duck Inn has a decidedly old-school feel, a place to get loose on good cocktails and fatty foods.

    Guests will first enter the tavern and lounge, where they can have a seat at the bar or the handful of tables and dive into the menu of upscale bar food, or head to the back dining room, where the food will be “a little more intense, technique-wise, but approachable,” Hickey said.

    A photo from the original Duck Inn at 35th Street and Ashland Avenue, owned by chef Kevin Hickey’s great grandmother in the Depression era.View Full Caption

    Kevin Hickey

    Choices in the bar and lounge include “friendly priced” burgers, chili-cheese fries, fried cheese curds, foie gras tamales, and a new version of Hickey’s popular homemade Chicago hot dog, this one made with a blend of beef and duck meat and duck fat.

    On tap is a roster of beers that are almost exclusively Chicago-made, including specialty beers and collaborations from Une Annee, Moody Tongue, Begyle and Bridgeport’sMarz Community Brewing. Bottles and cans of beer are mostly local, too.

    Mixologist Brandon Phillips, meanwhile, is preparing a menu of highball cocktails. But don’t expect gin and tonics.

    “These will be kind of funky. It’s going to be like we’re using ethnic sodas … Korean, Chinese, Mexican sodas and mixing them with funky, interesting alcohols, not the usual run-of-the-mill stuff,” he said.

    The back dining room will feature more refined food than its upfront counterpart.

    The menu will change with the seasons — that’s one of Hickey’s trademarks — but he said diners can expect fare like a braised beef brisket rolled braciola style, or the rotisserie duck, roasted nightly atop a cast-iron bed of potatoes catching all of the glorious duck fat drippings.

    “Chicagoans like flavor. They like rich. Strong. I’m just trying to get the most out of what at it’s best,” Hickey said.

    Diners will also have the option for wine pairings or a unique program that pairs meals with adventurous, shareable large-format beers.

    Out back, the restaurant’s sunken patio, with its overhead tree canopy and possible outdoor pizza oven, is set to be a prime hangout for the warmer months.

    If the fancy throwback cocktails and indulgent menus don’t harken back to easier times, the Duck Inn’s vibe probably will.

    The long bar is adorned with diamond shapes reminiscent of the bygone era. The walls are flecked with painted brass sunburst stars and 1960s-era celebrity liquor ads. Some nights, they’ll crank up the lounge’s restored Grundig stereo console to play records.

    So…why the 1960s?

    Hickey said he’s always liked the style of the era, but he figures the building was built in 1914 and The Duck Inn will open 100 years later and “it just smacks right in the middle.”

    “I just wanted to have fun with it,” he said.

    Hickey last year left his prominent, Michelin-starred tenure as executive chef with the Four Seasons to join up with Billy Dec’s Rockit Ranch, where he’s helped revamp some of the hitmaking restaurant group’s menus.

    The forthcoming opening of the Duck Inn is somewhat of a homecoming for the chef, so he’s making use of his longstanding neighborhood ties.

    Filbert’s, the venerable root beer and soda company, is making a special “Duck L’Orange” cream soda for the bar, and the sausage for the gourmet sausage will be made offsite at the nearby Makowski’s Real Sausage Company.

    The granddaughters of family friends who bought the home of his great grandmother, owner of the original Duck Inn, will be the new Duck Inn’s hostesses.

    Hickey would not divulge an opening date for the restaurant, but piles of unboxed holiday decorations suggest the debut is right around the corner.

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  • November 21 2014


    The Duck Inn is Kevin Hickey’s Bridgeport Homecoming

    Chicago Magazine
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    Kevin Hickey, despite highfalutin resumé entries as the former chef of the four-star restaurant Seasons at the Four Seasons Hotel and its successor, Allium, as well as the current chef at the Rockit Ranch hothouse Bottlefork, is also Kevin from Bridgeport. And Kevin from Bridgeport will soon open the Duck Inn (2701 S. Eleanor St., 312-724-8811), a neighborhood-friendly spot on an out-of-the-way corner near the South Branch of the Chicago River.

    Hickey bought the site of the former Gem Bar, so called because it was owned by the Gembara family for three generations. “I grew up on that street,” he says.

    I knew the bar and I knew the family. I used to go there as a kid and play Asteroid on the Atari stand-up video game in the corner. It was very much a neighborhood tavern, when Bridgeport had a tavern on every corner.

    In the front area, the bar menu will include updates (with updated prices) on three items that appear in a photograph from the original Duck Inn, opened around 1935 at 35th and Ashland by Hickey’s great-grandmother:

    • Hamburger sandwich 5¢
    • Tom Tom tamale 5¢
    • Hot dog 5¢

    The bar will serve eight draft beers, some of which will be exclusive to Duck Inn, such as an apple ale in collaboration with Begyle Brewery and a Belgian-style brew with Une Année that will be called either Holiday Gravy or Chicken Gravy. “When we went there to brew with them, there was a chicken walking in and out of the brewery and into the alley,” Hickey says. Duck Inn will also collaborate with Haymarket Whiskey Bar in Louisville on a single-barrel concoction called Whistle Pig Rye.

    In the 40-seat dining room, the short, seasonal menu will cover items along the lines of veal-stock-braised brisket with double-wide stuffed pappardelle and a tomato-based sauce like marinara. Rotisserie duck for two will be a house specialty, with a limited quantity available per night. Hickey will grow tomatoes in the back yard, and diners will have the opportunity to pick their own tomato for tomato salad for three or four weeks at the end of the summer. At a custom-designed “family table” near the kitchen, Hickey and his family will eat dinner every night before service begins. Customers can eat there after the Hickeys clear out.

    For dessert, Hickey gives the example of apple-parsnip brown Betty with cider granitée and parsnip ice cream. “Keep it simple,” he says.

    That’s simple? The corner tavern sure has come a long way in the past hundred years.

    View the original article

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  • September 26 2014


    The Duck Inn Takes Home “Top Dog” Prize at Food Network in Concert

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    The Food Network invaded the tony suburb of Highland Park this past Saturday to deliver the first ever Food Network in Concert. The event, held at the idyllic venue Ravinia, was a success, packing in more than 10,000 attendees who enjoyed a day of food, drinking, demonstrations, panels, music and camping out on the lawns.

    Kevin Hickey of Bottlefork won “Top Dog” honors at the Franks & Beats competition with the “Duck Fat Dog” due to hit the menu of his forthcoming restaurant The Duck Inn. The Don Julio Airstream trailer was a personal favorite, with Hickey declaring that perhaps he and his crew spent a little too much time inside of it.

    Read the full article here.