Dear Margaret - Chicago
Dear Margaret in Lakeview offers a type of “ethnic” cuisine rarely seen in Chicago: French-Canadian, the food of French immigrants who settled in the Great White North and brought their love of food with them.
French-Canadian food is a blend of French with North American culinary techniques and ingredients. What results are dishes both somewhat foreign and somewhat familiar, but always substantial and delicious.
So, what can you expect to eat at Dear Margaret? Here are some highlights.
Putsins may sound unusual, but it’s basically an exceptionally fine version of braised chicken with hearty whole wheat dumplings in a bone broth with roasted root vegetables. This is just the kind of meal you want to sit down to on a cold night in Chicago…or Montreal. This, like so many dishes at Dear Margaret, is French but not fancy pants, simple, nourishing food beautifully executed and totally satisfying.
Chicago used to have large smelt runs every spring, when Chicagoans would set up along the lakeshore to capture the tiny fish in nets. The smelt are all gone from the Chicago part of Lake Michigan, but there are still smelts in Canada, and so Dear Margaret serves the delicate little fish, fried in delicious beef tallow, and served simply with tartar sauce and lemon. Fried smelts are a traditional Chicagoland dish, served to us now by way of Canada.
Beef shank is comfort food for those in Midwestern Canada as well as the Midwestern United States. At Dear Margaret, the braised beef shank is big – suitable for two – and it’s served with meaty maitake mushrooms and peppery arugula. Pro tip: share a plate of the smelts and follow it up with the shared platter of beef shanks, fantastic.
The tourtiere is a classic French-Canadian meat pie, filled with pork, mushrooms, potatoes and herbs, encased within a traditional lard crust. All you need to make a full meal is a salad, which comes on the side of this dish, perfection.
For dessert, we recommend a Canadian favorite: Nanaimo bars, made of graham crackers, coconut, walnut, and chocolate ganache with custard icing.