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TODAY

Monday, December 17

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Airbags

Cinnamon and I headed to Konak early on Friday, well ahead of the crowd for the GB Get-Together; I think we arrived at about 7:15 for a 9 o'clock event. This was partly because we wanted to eat beforehand, but really, we got there so early because we were starving and not thinking clearly -- an hour and 45 minutes is more than enough time for dinner and even a couple drinks.

Despite the presence of the word "grill" in its name, Konak is mainly known as a bar with pretty good pizza. And the pizza is decent -- they've even got a few unexpected toppings available, such as eggplant and jalapenos. But there's actually a fairly wide range of items available on the menu for a bar, including something you rarely see: a trademarked item, specifically, Chicken Chops™.

Now, I did a little research with the US Patent and Trademark Office, just to make sure Konak actually went this extra step -- trademarking something isn't cheap -- and it turns out they did. As registered on October 12, 1999, chicken chops™ are "precut chicken thighs; seasoned and precut chicken for consumption on or off the premises." (Trademark for the singular, chicken chop, was applied for in 1986 by Ess-Jay Distributors of Florida for breaded chicken drumsticks, but it was never confirmed.)

The menu expands on that definition a bit, describing chicken chops as "moderately marinated chicken thighs shaped like a chop, broiled and served with double-baked potato, cole slaw and pickle." I couldn't quite tell what that "moderate marinade" was, but the skinless chops were seasoned with mint, black pepper and oregano, and broiled to perfection -- just a little crispy on the outside, juicy and tender inside. I was really impressed, and could imagine the dish being served in a much classier joint. (Maybe that's why they trademarked them.) However, in that classier joint, they'd probably be accompanied with classier sides -- the twice-baked potato came in a foil boat and reminded me of the frozen ones my mom got from Market Day. The cole slaw and pickle helped bring the meal firmly back to its bar setting. Still, three chops and those sides for just $5.95 is an excellent deal.

Cinnamon got the BBQ Beef Sandwich, $4.40 on its own or $5.75 "deluxe" with fries and a pickle. She complimented the bun, which didn't fall apart despite the very wet beef. While the meat wasn't at all smokey, the ample barbecue sauce made up for it, lending the sandwich a sweet, tangy and salty flavor. The steak fries were very good, although Cinnamon wished they offered malt vinegar in addition to the ketchup.

The ambience is pretty much what you'd expect for a bar -- lots of TVs, wobbly tables with utilitarian chairs, a jukebox -- but there are unexpected twists. Konak is a hangout for the many actors living in Andersonville, so the wall across from the bar is covered with framed headshots of regulars past and present. The lighting is predominantly blue, and there's a vaguely Middle-Eastern theme to the place, with Turkish chandeliers over some tables and a raised section in the back where you can lounge on couches and Persian rugs while gazing at a fish tank and a big screen TV. Three different basketball games were on while we were there, befitting March Madness. A pool table shares space with the tables.

And in among the fried cheese and hot wings on the appetizers list is homemade hummus, which for $4.25 comes with toasted pita squares. It's not the best hummus ever, but it's not overly garlicky and has a nice lemony zip. It's garnished with a couple slices of black olive and a dash of paprika, and a pepperoncini sits to the side.

Overall, we were quite happy with our meal, and would certainly consider eating at Konak on the cheap before heading next door to Hopleaf for some expensive beer. Or maybe just hang out right there, because although you can't get Duchesse du Bourgogne on tap, you can hear yourself talk and you won't leave smelling quite as much like an ashtray.

Konak Pizza & Grill is located at 5150 N. Clark, just south of Foster. They're open from 3pm to 1am Monday through Friday, noon to 2am Saturday and Sunday. Call 773-271-6688 for more information.

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About the Author(s)

Fork It Over is the result of weekly dinners with members of the Gapers Block staff. This week's review was written by Andrew Huff.

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