Restaurants in Eastern European cities are typically located in the basement, so Nicolai Perepitchka's new Baza Sports Club in Humboldt Park
is naturally underground (a patio outside also seats approximately 16). "Baza," which means "home" in the mother tongue, boasts old-fashioned wood paneling and softly lit lanterns, suggestive of an eatery in Kiev. But the 19 televisions on the walls, airing everything from baseball to boxing, the posters of a young Michael Jordan and other Chicago sports icons, and the marble-topped bar all remind you that this is the Windy City. Perepitchka, who's lived in the States for 18 years, is a true sports fanatic.
Although it's a great place to watch the game and drink a cold one, the cuisine alone is worth the trip. Baza offers a global menu that includes Eastern European specialties like borscht ($5), but also Asian items (pork pot stickers, $8) and comida Mexicana (mushroom-goat cheese empanadas, $7). If you're ravenously hungry, splurge on the high-end entrees such as the 12-ounce New York strip steak ($18) or the pan-seared salmon with asparagus ($14).
The executive chef at Wolfgang Puck designed Baza's menu, and it shows. You'd expect the beef borscht to be hearty, and that it is, but the popular dish also offers a cornucopia of different tastes — owing to the creme fraiche and dill. All in all, this fusion restaurant is worth a visit.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Jacob Wheeler