Billy Sunday opened quietly last night on Logan Boulevard, with barely so much as a tweet. The new cocktail bar has been months in the making, and with its doors open for less than 24 hours was named one of the best new bars in the country by Details magazine. Run by Matthias Merges (Yusho), the intimate, cozy venue has the makings of a token Logan Square spot: inconspicuous signage, repurposed art and furnishings, antique china. I would go as far as to call it Longman & Eagle’s little brother.
Boasting housemade bitters and tonics and a wide-ranging drink menu, the fare served on china foraged by the owner’s wife is really an added bonus. As mentioned in a Chicago Magazine brief, the food is meant to evoke “1940s and 1950s dinners at Grandma’s house.”
What we drank: I ran into restaurateur and friend John Ross at the bar, who recommended the Hoar’s Frost and The Victorian cocktails. I tried the Daiquiri, an unfortunately-timed salute to the warm-weather beverage, and the Plank Road, a tequila drink with an emphasis on rum served in a gorgeously heavy glass goblet.
What we ate: Here’s where things got a little strange. We wanted an appetizer-type spread, so we opted for the tomatoes (under ‘Things in jars’), but needed to order a large plank of artisanal bread as something to spread them on. The tomatoes are, in fact, served in a jar, and are mashed into a delicious oblivion. How else should it be consumed than on bread? These jarred concoctions should be accompanied by, at least, a side of crostinis. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable, along with the luscious banana pudding.
Being there on its soft opening last night felt like being in on a big secret. Each bar seat was occupied, but nearly all the two-seat tables were empty, and the staff seemed eerily calm. Expect things to pick up dramatically starting tonight for the grand opening, and try to visit earlier than the prime time of 10 p.m.