Seems like Chicagos been waiting since the Bronze Age for someone to challenge the gimmicky orthodoxy of Greektown, a place to take tourists more than a place to take expectations of a memorable or original meal. But at Taxim 29-year-old former caterer David Schneider has raised the bar for what passes as serious, interesting regional Greek food in a dramatic scrubbing of the late Wicker Park dive Big Horse Lounge. The brass lanterns in this Byzantine lounge (dimly) expose some of some of the freshest yet oldest ideas in village cuisine: humble, seasonal ingredients in simple, wonderful dishes like fresh-shelled favas with yogurt and lamb confit, a recipe from a mountain region where the traditional use of animal fat reflected a scarcity of olive oil. (And Schneider has already changed it by subbing in tender unshelled bean pods that were unavailable a few weeks ago.) Thats not to say Taxim is a bastion of tradition. Pomegranate-glazed duck gyros are an updated nod to street food, dressed in a thin, unstrained house-made yogurt thats deployed with amazing results in a number of dishes, from sauteed baby eggplant to a brawny (if dry) minced goat kebab, as well as on its own for dessert, accented with some tart candied kumquats. The so-far moderately sized selection of hot and cold mezzes and large plates--which also includes supersweet roasted peppers, capers, and kefalograviera cheese and a phyllo-clad goat feta and ramp pie--apparently just hints at Schneiders repertoire, said to include hundreds of recipes from Greece and Asia Minor. The all-Greek wine list is affordable and interesting; add to that a weekend yogurt bar and cafe.
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