Winter in Chicago (and other relatively northern spots) is known for many thingsincluding comfort foods.
Well, the River North spot Jake Melnick's Corner Tap, 41 E. Superior St., has it in spadesand it's all delicious.
How large are the portions? Well, my dining companion decided to "commit" (her word) to the Biggie Pretzela one-and-a-half-pound monster that comes with Jake's cheese sauce, spicy mustard and pimento cheese. She thoroughly enjoyed the part she had at the placebut also relished the fact that she would have leftover snacks for at least a few days.
However, there are other appetizers to try, including a huge platter of nachos (with melted cheddar, green onions, tomatoes, sour cream, jalapenos, salsa and guac, along with protein options of brisket, pulled pork or chicken). With my low spice tolerance, I chose to try the nachos sans the peppersand was very satisfied. Among the restaurant's other apps are spinach and artichoke dip (which I'm sure is addictive), Southern fried pickles, cheese curds and buffalo cauliflower (which comes in degrees of hotness).
And Jake Melnick's has SO much more. Even the salads are over the top, with options like the standard Cobb and southwest salads, along with the massive garbage option (chicken, salami, mixed greens, artichokes, olives, provolone, tomato, red onions, radishes, roasted red peppers and garbanzo beans tossed in red wine vinaigrette).
Those who consider themselves pure carnivores can certainly go with the BBQ platters. There are the huge Texas beef rib (smoked for 18 hours); mix 'n match platters from choices such as beef brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork shoulder and more; and sandwich like the Sloppy Pig, consisting of chopped pork and brisket, cheddar, fried onions and KC sauce, all on a sesame seed bun. My friend loved her pulled pork sandwich.
However, I had to go with Jake's Famous Wings. While the PB&J option (think chicken satay with a side of raspberry jam) is not currently there, there are still plenty of other mouth-watering choices. I went with the firecracker (sweet Thai chili and sriracha), but you can go with Poncho's (grilled, garlic and cayenne), whiskey BBQ or even XXXX (which requires a waiver to sign and is coated in habanero, ghost pepper, scorpion and Carolina reaper).
Even the sides are filling. The hot mess is a jumbo baked potato stuffed with chopped pork, brisket, cheddar cheese, fried onions and BBQ sauce; and the homestyle baked mac 'n cheese is advertised as being "better than Kraft." I'm not sure how high a bar that is, but I plan on investigating that next time I come here.
And if you manage to get to dessert, reward yourself with a chocolate-chip cookie skillet sundae. Yes, it's what you might expect that a laid-back place like Jake Melnick's, but that doesn't make this indulgence any less delicious.
The drinks are standard, but good. However, there was something I learned. After asking for an Arnold Palmer (the lemonade-iced tea mix named after one golfer), the server asked me if I wanted a John Daly, which I discovered includes a splash of vodka and is an interesting nod to another golferone who has battled alcoholism.
That potentially controversial fact aside, one thing is certain about this spot: You won't walk away from this spot hungry.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap's website is www.jakemelnicks.com .
COVID restrictions were staunchly in place. The hostess checked everyone's proof of vaccination, staffers wore masks and signs stressed that patrons also had to wear masks when they left their tables (for any reason).
Note: This visit was arranged.