Midwest Living Review
Inspiration Kitchens' seasonal dishes come with a side of hope. Around the corner from Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory, the new contemporary restaurant housed in a renovated 1906 engraving factory employs disadvantaged neighborhood residents, teaching them valuable culinary and food industry skills. (The original Uptown location is also still going strong.)
This rewarding dining experience is about as green and self-sustaining as it gets, from the $2.5 million LEED-certified building and on-site gardens to the professional fare coming out of the kitchen via knowledgeable, polite servers. Guests dine at sturdy recycled wood tables surrounded by artsy botanical photography prints hung on exposed brick walls.
Food here is consistently good and affordable. Creamy, cumin-spiced sweet potato soup ($4), buttermilk-battered fried green tomatoes ($4) and plump shrimp over grits ($6) are all smart choices for starters. The flaky Po Boy fried catfish sandwich topped with red pepper aioli and kicky corn relish ($8) and the tea-brined, Carolina mustard-glazed pork chops ($12) stand out among the mains. Warm crumb-topped berry cobbler ($4) satisfies most needs for sweets. Be prepared to bring home a doggie bag—portions are huge.
Homemade sauces, chutneys and jams for sale are displayed next to the open kitchen, where diners can watch the student chefs at work. Both Inspiration Kitchens locations are open for lunch, dinner Wednesday through Sunday and weekend brunch.