THE FACTORY KITCHEN
SERVING SOME OF THE BEST FOOD & DRINKS IN TOWN
It is absolutely no secret that I think downtown’s The Factory Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in town. The Italian trattoria serves some of the finest pasta dishes and don’t even get me started on their cannoli, but ever since it opened in 2013, it’s cocktail program has constantly improved to where it now completely compliments the first rate fare.
The current cocktail menu may be limited in quantity but absolutely excels in quality. Bartender Andrew Gustafson, using seasonal ingredients has crated a cocktail menu that represents flavors from ingredients found in California during the hot summer months. His drinks manage to pair well with the fine cuisine or serve as just wonderful libations for anyone who wants to belly up to the bar for a drink and a bite.
The cocktail menu runs the gamut of flavors. Gin drinkers will want to try the Cream on Chrome, a play on a gin sour. Made with Sloane’s gin, St. Germain, cucumber, egg white, and lemon, it’s a wonderful frothy beverage.
The DT-LAst Word, made with chamomile infused Slow Hand Whiskey, Galliano, maraschino liqueur, and lemon is a creative and tasty whiskey drink. Likewise, the Mezcali, the menu’s most popular cocktail, is a delightful blend of mezcal, lemon, Serrano simple, muddle cherry tomatoes and strawberries. I love the smoky flavor mixed with the tomatoes and strawberries. Balance is key with this drink.
Not every drink on the menu is a winner. The Steve Maarten comes across as a white Martinez, but unlike the classic cocktail, which is actually one of my favorite drinks, this mix of Bols Genever, Lillet Blanc, maraschino, and orange bitters, was too sweet for me. Another drink that didn’t do it for me was the Aeroplano made with Dos Maderas rum, white rum, lime, simple syrup, ginger juice, absinthe, and a pinch of smoked paprika. The result was a drink that tasted like black licorice while being too gingery—two flavors I’m not a fan of. And the Noce Nera, made with Templeton rye, lemon, Amaro Lucano, Steen’s cane syrup, and black walnut bitters was too bitter and not well balanced. This play on a Gin Last Word was too subtle for me.
But even with three drinks that I didn’t care for, the current menu is still a must try. Thinking somewhat outside the box, the Vinny’s Backside, made with Amaro Meletti, lime, angostura, topped with ginger beer and rosemary, comes across like an Amaro Mule, which you don’t really find anywhere. I like the creativity. While this isn’t a very boozy drink, it is wonderfully refreshing.
If you’re drinking at the bar, definitely get an order of the fine Mandilli de Seta (handkerchief pesto pasta with lingurian olive oil) for some much needed sustenance, as well as the delicious squash blossom flatbread. You won’t be disappointed. You can’t really spend time at The Factory Kitchen without trying some of their special and sensational dishes.
Dessert here always has to include the cannoli—homemade cannoil shells, ricotta filling, orange marmalade, and pistachios—but you should also consider the Satisfactory made with Dos Maderas rum, Borghetti, Fernet Branca, orgeat, crushed espresso beans, and cream. While this cocktail is a little boozy, it comes across as a delicious liquid dessert (something I’m a huge fan). This with the cannoli, well, now you have something stellar on your hands.
It’s nice to see a place like The Factory Kitchen, which offers some of the best Italian fare in town, improve its game and not just stand pat because it knows its food can’t really be challenged. While the 30-seat bar area sets a lively, yet refined setting, it’s so worth venturing too. It offers a different change of pace and isn’t quite as ‘high falutin’ as you may think the restaurant is—although even here the fine dining atmosphere is relaxed. I’m a big proponent of fine fare and good drinks and you’ll find that to be just the case at The Factory Kitchen.
The Factory Kitchen is located at 1300 Factory Place. Call (213) 996-6000.
Story by Jose Martinez
Some Photography Courtesy of: The Factory Kitchen