Deleece - A Delightful Restaurant

Outside Deleece

On Southport, just off of Irving Park, Deleece has been drawing neighborhood crowds and visitors with its eclectic American menu. The exposed brick-walled room with a painted tin ceiling is warm and inviting and seats 70 people. The restaurant serves a great brunch Saturday and Sunday and lunch and dinner on weekdays and weekends.

Executive Chef Josh Hansen

On a recent evening, Executive Chef Josh Hansen created a tasting menu of reflecting and contrasting textures that added up to an intriguing dinner for the press. We began with a starter of polenta layered with smoked shallots and mushroom duxelle. Seared top and bottom, the creamy polenta contrasted with the texture of the duxelle, and the smoky flavor was just enough to be interesting, not overwhelming. Murmurs of appreciation went around the room as diners tasted the next course, a salad of morels, grilled pencil asparagus, and pancetta with white soy pancetta vinaigrette.


The creaminess was reflected in the third course, a scoop of pale pink pimenton risotto garnishing a large diver scallop, seared until just done with a garnish of braised fennel, basil aioli, and a bit of heat coming from a narrow ribbon of chile oil circling the plate.

Polenta with smoked shallots and mushroom duxelle

Perfectly grilled medium rare New York strip steak with port-wine demi-glace followed. This time the creaminess running through the dinner appeared in truffled mashed potatoes. The potatoes were delicious, their smoothness set off by the small lumps resulting from hand mashing.

Blueberry Basque Cake

The meal was completed by slice of fabulous blueberry Basque cake, a thicker and thinner layer of pastry-like cake encasing a creamy center with a layer of blueberry jam. The top was a little crunchy with sliced almonds.

Owners John Handler and Lynne Wallack, a husband and wife team, circulated among the guests during the evening. Ms. Wallack said they had wanted to create a restaurant that was a home away from home for the neighborhood - a place “you would bring your out-of-town guests to,” and added, “I aim to run a restaurant that both customers and employees are passionate about.” Celebrating its 13th anniversary this spring, Deleece continues to meet these goals.

At Deleece's bar

The night we were there, Deleece was serving cocktails made from shochu, a Japanese distilled spirit, and green apple and lychee or blood orange and coconut. Both combinations were light, pleasant and just slightly sour. The owners of Deleece are partnering with Chef Hansen in opening Shochu, a small-plates restaurant with “an Asian edge,” located in the 3300 block of Clark Street in April, 2008. We can’t wait to try it.

Inside Deleece

Deleece (773-325-1710) is at 4004 N. Southport Ave. in Chicago, IL. Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is served 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Street parking is available nearby on Clark Street, Southport Avenue and Irving Park Road. Lunch averages $12 per person; Dinner, $35.

Photos:  Cindy Kurman

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