Robert Nava, the former chef/owner at American Depot Diner, is now in the kitchen at Kinderhook Tap.
Anyone who visited American Depot Diner on da Island on Roosevelt Road just east of Austin Avenue knew it was a special place. On the menu were diner classics done right, pot roast, hand-shaped hamburgers, biscuits and gravy, red velvet cake and always a blue plate special served on a platter of the requisite hue.
I wrote an early appreciation of this retro resto in Chicago Reader, and in the years to come, it was reviewed favorably in the Chicago Tribune and later got a visit from Guy Fieri of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins-and Dives.
Walking by Kinderhook Tap a few nights ago, I stopped in and chatted with Nava.
"Depot Diner didn't make it," said Nava, "but it wasn't for lack of publicity. We were in a tough place," he said, referring to the neighborhood that many thought his Depot Diner would help resurrect into a viable commercial strip for retail establishments other than bars and repair shops.
But it wasn't to be.
Still, hearing that Nava is now in the kitchen was some of the best news I'd heard about Kinderhook Tap in a long time.
When I asked him how long he'd be cooking at Kinderhook Tap, Nava wasn't sure. He did say, though, that he has "some plans for the autumn and winter menus," which suggests he may be around for at least the next few seasons. That's encouraging.
I haven't been back to Kinderhook Tap in over a year, but I now have a reason to visit again. If you go, it'd be helpful if you posted about your experiences here.