Crossing just might be the bar where everybody knows your name — especially if you attended the University of Kansas. But alumni from other universities or from the school of life will find themselves equally at home in this largest tavern of the Four Corners group, which includes Benchmark, Brownstone, Gaslight (reviewed on Chicago Splash), Kirkwood, Schoolyard, Sidebar and WestEnd. Each of the Chicago pubs caters to fans of a different college or pro sports team.
With 46 plasma-screen TVs, Crossing’s spacious interior bar areas are full of action, but in good summer weather, find your bliss in its pleasant outdoor beer garden. There, the TVs are muted, as is the street noise, making Crossing’s patio one of Chicago’s most attractive summer havens.
The icing on the cake is an appealing summer menu that includes some lighter-than-usual bar fare and a menu of summery cocktails. I started with a Moscow Mule, vodka juiced with lime and livened with Barritt’s Bermuda ginger beer, served in an icy copper mug. Refreshing and not too sweet, it’s the perfect summer cocktail. I tried a sip of my companion’s Diet Creamsicle (Voli Light Orange Vanilla vodka, O.J., a dash of half and half), only 125 calories, and found it nicely balanced and non-diet in taste. The Pama Cooler (vodka and pomegranate liqueur, 145 calories) is another light alternative. Rounding out the signature summer cocktails is the Blueberry Fog. Not in the mood for a cocktail? Crossing’s offerings include 12 draft and 34 bottled beers and 12 red, white, or sparkling wines.
It would be unwise to drink on an empty stomach — and foolish to ignore the tempting dishes turned out in Chef Jim Hoban’s kitchen. Special summer appetizers include Buffalo Rolls and Pizza Rolls. Encased in crispy wontons, the rolls are lighter takes on the old standards and much easier to eat, with no bones to contend with. And even if you’re unaccustomed to seeing salads on a bar menu, do try the Arugula & Honey Goat Cheese Salad, a pleasing blend of sprightly leaves, crunchy Asian pear and crispy prosciutto, set off with tasty cheese fritters.
The two summer pizzas should qualify for all-season service: Wild Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, and Prosciutto Pizza with mozzarella and arugula. Their airy, wood-fired crusts would be perfect year-round.
Two main courses headline Crossing’s summer menu, both with summery twists. The Salmon Tacos featured grilled salmon rather than deep-fried fish, and they are wrapped in soft tortillas rather than fried shells, making for a relatively healthy and very tasty dish. As good as they were, they were nearly upstaged by the addictive cilantro rice that accompanied them. I didn’t sample the Parrano Grilled Cheese (arugula, tomato, braised onions on sourdough bread), but the diners who did seemed content.
Prices are reasonable for upscale bar food in a comfortable setting, with appetizers averaging $8.50 and sandwiches in the $9 range.
2548 N. Southport Ave. (at Wrightwood), Chicago
Monday – Friday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.