Honey's

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Located in the West Loop in the shadows of rusty elevated train tracks and bath fixture stores, you don’t expect much. In fact, you can barely find the place. There’s no sign, just a couple of classic porch light-style lanterns. Inside the doors, you’ll find a compressed, low-ceilinged room that feels cramped and even less promising than the curbside. But once the host whisks you into a two-story bar with white arches, gold hardware and a trove of liquor bottles glinting in the light that pours through the room’s huge triangular-shaped skylight, the game is on. Servers and bartenders wear stylish white butcher-style jackets, Windsor-knotted black ties and black Vans tennis shoes trimmed with a wavy white stripe. Though it's enclosed, the generous shimmery light, gilded back bar and alabaster color scheme make the space feel like some kind of secret outdoor drinking lair, the kind of place James Bond would have somehow found while slipping behind enemy lines. The dining room is a bit more subdued, with milk chocolate-colored wood shelves filled with art, plates and architectural and cooking tomes. Dining tables are outfitted with curved Danish-style chairs, and there’s a smattering of half moon-shaped banquettes outfitted in a soft gray material. Even more stylish than the room itself are the plates from Welch and pastry chef Alison Cates. Curls of hamachi ($18) are adorned with hazelnut snow, glistening caviar-like finger lime, pingpong paddle-shaped shiso leaves and jewel-toned flakes of dehydrated grapefruit fruit leather. A tangle of housemade buckwheat pasta showered with thyme butter, a sandy mound of crispy bread crumbs, pecorino, tiny morel mushroom rafts and purple thyme blossoms are offered along with tiny verdant peas and curled pea shoots strewn about mahogany-colored half-domes of fava bean- and pea-stuffed falafel. Honey’s dining room and bar are relaxed, but the food quality is so high that it feels like an a la carte version of a prix fixe dining temple.