The restaurant celebrates Americana, its cuisine, culture and industry workers (who will get half-off their bills on Mondays).
Initially planned for a mid-May debut, Split-Rail opened on Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the restaurant at 2500 W. Chicago Ave. on the border of West Town and Humboldt Park.
The restaurant will open at 5 p.m. during the week except 3 p.m. on Mondays to welcome guests who work in the restaurant industry and arts, and who will receive the significant discount on their tabs.
Formerly the executive chef of DMK Restaurants’ Ada Street at 1664 N. Ada St., Schor realized her dream of owning her own restaurant after finding an ideal venue, in the former Clyde’s donut factory that closed in the 1990s and most recently was a sports bar.
“There is such a great community of restaurants in this neighborhood, so we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” Schor said in a news release. Chef de cuisine Michael Knutson and Michelle Szot, general manager, are assisting Schor with leading the team.
Split-Rail’s menu focuses on putting local and seasonal ingredients into re-imagined childhood dishes.
Scohr’s creative riffs on classic comfort-food dishes — prepared in a raised open kitchen that looks out on the dining room — include a loaded baked potato gnocchi with bacon, sour cream, Hook’s 5-year cheddar and crispy potato skins; a green bean casserole with oyster mushrooms, house-fried onions and fresh herbs; and the “picky eater’s standby,” chicken nuggets.
Chicken nuggets at Split-Rail [Courtesy of Mary Belovich]
For guests with dietary restrictions and allergies, Schor, a nut allergy sufferer, feels their pain. The restaurant is completely nut-free and offers separate vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus.
Desserts include steamed brown bread with sweet corn ice cream, angel food cake and “Aunt T’s Pretzel Surprise,” which draws inspiration from a family recipe that usually includes Jell-O, Cool Whip, and pretzels, with panna cotta, strawberry/pineapple gelatin, and pretzel streusel serving as elevated substitutes.
Crafted by Szot and her team, Split-Rail’s cocktail menu features rotating, seasonal drinks, low proof/no proof cocktails and spins on classics.
Each cocktail’s name ties back to classic Americana through cultural or historical reference. “Freedom From Want” refers to a famous Norman Rockwell painting and combines elderflower liqueur, gentian liqueur, grapefruit and cinnamon tincture with a rosemary garnish, while the WWII-inspired Operation Paperclip uses smoky lapsang souchong tea-infused vodka, vermouth, Punt e Mes and maraschino.
The Schor-curated wine list focuses on American wines with “a large spread of old world wines as well as some more unconventional wines,” the spokeswoman said.
The staff’s pooled record collection will spin vinyl albums from Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones to Ella Fitzgerald and Florence and the Machine — and the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, among others.
The 105-seat spot is divided into a 60-seat dining room, a 15-seat bar and a private dining space for 30.
Split-Rail, 2500 W. Chicago Ave. Hours are 3- 10 p.m. Monday; 5 -10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.; 5 p.m. – 12. a.m. Fri- Sat; closed on Sunday. Call (773) 697-4413 for reservations or book online through Reserve.