Kitchen + Kocktails equals a good time

Tue. October 19, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

There's a new hot spot in town that comes complete with southern cuisine and charming hospitality. Kitchen + Kocktails, 444 Wabash Avenue, is open for business after Benny's Chop House closed in the same location in 2020.

This makes a complete change from the steakhouse of the past to special comfort food from the south. Owner Kevin Kelley has invested time and money to create a very different vibe to the place for guests. From the unique plates to the ebony cutlery, every item has been planned out and considered.

The decor is more modern than before and kept simplistic with a few new photo opportunities and iconic people of color adorned on the walls. Iconic figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Chance the Rapper and Barack Obama all have a history in the Windy City and are framed for inspiration in the back room.

The rooster logo is used for branding as well as highlighting the chicken dishes offered by the kitchen.

Looking for a sweet drink? Start off with the festive rum punch or a cotton candy cloud in a martini glass. For Halloween, the Black Magic drink will be picture perfect thanks to smoke rising from the dry ice and the Key Lime Pie Kocktail even makes a creamy dessert. We are all friends here at the communal tables so why not drink straight from the bottle with a frozen Patron Margarita?

There's not a bad choice on the appetizer list. The seafood gumbo has just the right amount of spice to it and the cajun crab cakes hit all the right notes as well.

The entrees allow for many variations with chicken offered in southern fried, Nashville hot, Asian Hennessy, jerk or smothered to pick from. Catfish comes either fried or grilled and has a lighter taste than the usual ray-finned fish in this case. Go for the surf and turf option with a lobster tail added to the lamb chops. Sides can include anything from delicious cornbread to fried okra. The mac and cheese is a must-try item thanks to the dish being so thick and rich.

The peach cobbler is the perfect way to finish off the experience and will leave everyone feeling satisfied because of the decadent taste.

The staff was overall very friendly and helpful on the night I visited. The bar does get backed up during busy times, so be patient and the Kocktails will certainly be worth the wait. Kitchen + Kocktails is bringing the south to River North and makes a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Visit or call 312-659-1951 for more information.