- Mike Sula
- Eric May’s red-flannel hash
On Saturday, Friend of the Food Chain Eric May threw a pop-up tribute to Leo’s Lunchroom at the Piranha Club. Through the late 80s and early 90s, the Wicker Park diner was pretty much the only place you could eat in its immediate surroundings on Division. But it was much more than that. A hangout for artists, musicians, and assorted neighborhood weirdos in the heady days of pre- and mid-gentrification Wicker Park, it served an eclectic and mostly delicious pan-global assortment of budget-friendly food, cooked by Donna Knezek, who went on to Bite and Feed, and has since relocated to Albuquerque.
May got in touch with Knezek,
former owner Sheila McCoy, and a few other staffers for recipes, and reverse engineered a few more with the help of some crowd sourcing among old regulars. He served brunch, lunch, and dinner, and turned out some amazingly faithful renditions of the biscuits and mushroom gravy, the veggie chili, the sweet-potato burrito, samosas, pecan-crusted catfish with mustard pan sauce, and more. The Reuben, griddled by Tom Harrington and served with potato salad, brought a Proustian tear to my eye.
May shared the simple recipe for the arresting red-flannel hash, and there are a few more shots of other dishes after the jump.