Popped into Brian Malarkey’s latest invention, Searsucker, on the corner of Fifth and Market.  With it’s open ceiling, large windows, wood and old brick wall, the place has the feel of an airy, comfortable big country home.  There are sofas where you can eat and drink.  The bar is to the right of the entrance…and aside from backless bar stools and no purse hooks (lots of purses on the floor),  it’s perfect for sipping and munching.

The menu is clever, albeit almost too clever and divided into Bites, Smalls, Greens, Ocean, Ranch, Farm, And…. Buzz popped in this week for a drink and a few Bites that included the simple preparation of  quickly seared and lightly glazed shishito peppers (a staple usually reserved for Japanese restaurants)  topped with a bit of citrus zest ($5) and the duck fat garlic fries with a tomato jam and tiny flecks of bacon and parsley ($6).  In  Smalls  you’ll find spicy Baja shrimp and bacon grits ($12)–the Baja refers to the shrimp’s source, the spicy comes from a hearty Cajun spice blend and the rich and creamy grits make a perfect bed for the five medium-size, perfectly cooked shrimp.  Some of the other menu items include farm bird lollipops and bleu fondue ($8) (Malarkey’s version of buffalo wings), or eggs and bacon ($) (four ounces of pork belly topped with an egg) and lots more such as cheek with goat cheese dumpling ($23) and local Baja scallops, foie gras and figs ($28).

It’s a fun place with good people watching, especially if you sit at the bar or along the high tops that edge the windows.  Be prepared for a $15 valet parking fee.  Open 5pm for drinks and Bites and 6pm for dinner,  611 Fifth Avenue at Market, 619-233-7327.

If you’ve not tried Saffron’s monthly Thai street food extravaganza, you must this Saturday, August 7.   Served from 11 am to 2pm on the patio, you can try these typical foods.  This month a Buzz favorite (that used to be on the regular menu) will be available:  Lao sausage (home made spicy chicken sausage grilled and served with green papaya salad ($5.50).  Try it along with an ear of grilled local corn lathered with grated coconut and coconut cream ($2) or two Thai coconut macaroons ($1.50).  3731 B India Street at Washington, 619-574-7734.

Little Italy will soon be home to a Chicago transplant–Francesca’s takes over in the former Zagarella and Cefalu spaces, at 1655 India Street, about 5,000 square feet on a ten year lease valued at just over $2 million.

4 thoughts on “Bits and Bites: Searsucker, Saffron and Francesca’s

  1. We went to Saffron’s monthly Thai street food extravaganza last month, and it was out of control busy.

    Su-Mei was cooking and singing but the set up was confusing (do you order at the inside counter or from her or…?)

    We ended up leaving because it was so chaotic and crowded.

    Reply
  2. Francesca’s is pretty darn good for a local Chicago “chain.” I’ve eaten at a few of them on visits, the food was well above Zagarella in quality. Be interesting to see what price point they go with here.

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  3. I thought the street food event at Saffron was wonderful last month! I placed my order outside where they were preparing the street foods made to order right in front of me and paid inside without any issues. Su-Mei was great and entertaining as always. There were a lot of people but that just added to the fun. It made for excellent people and food watching. I highly recommend this event to anyone who likes Thai food and is looking for something fun, interesting and unique to do this weekend.

    Reply

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