Cheers to the Kinderhook Tap

New bar and grill offers Oak Park renovated ambiance and organic menu.

Though one restaurant bit the dust at Van Buren Street and Oak Park Avenue, another opened Aug. 18 at the same spot, but with a new name, a new look and a new menu.

Owners Kristin Graham and Marci Hughes have totally renovated the former site of Nola's Cup into their little slice of neighborly heaven, Kinderhook Tap, located at 800 S. Oak Park Ave.

The renovations feature a long custom-made bench to accommodate patrons waiting for a table to become available. Rich wood paneling wraps the main room, which is packed with cherry wood chairs and shiny, copper-topped tables.

The original terrazzo floor shows a century of character, and new lighting fixtures hang from a bronze-toned tin ceiling.

Included on Chef Laura White's menu are Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef, Patuxent Farms free-range chicken and pork and produce from Chicago's Green City Market — it's Chef White's effort to promote and serve responsibly-raised food.

Continuing the local theme, the dessert menu features fried Twinkies — in honor of its inventor, Oak Parker James Dewar — homemade peach cobbler and fresh baked cookies made from dough from Sweet Miss Givings, an organization that aids the homeless.

Kinderhook's drink menu includes local microbrews and specialty cocktails, as well as old tavern standbys.

The name Kinderhook Tap was inspired by the restaurant's location at the corner with Van Buren Street. Martin Van Buren, the eighth U.S. president who served from 1837 to 1841, was known as "Old Kinderhook" for his birthplace of Kinderhook, N.Y.

"It's also the Dutch word for small corner, which fits us," said Graham.

The location promises to be successful, given how well the nearby Avenue Ale House has done in its 10 years of business.

Hughes said neighbors popped in to offer help — and maybe sneak a peak — ever since she and Graham displayed a building permit in the restaurant's window this past spring.

One neighbor turned them on to a kitchen equipment supplier and another got the contract to make T-shirts for the restaurant.

"We felt from the start that we were onto something here at this corner," Hughes said.

The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. each day and has a capacity of 53 indoor and 28 outdoor diners.


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