Five Things to Know About Ann Sather
Ann Sather always had a talent for old-fashioned Scandinavian cooking. So when a Swedish restaurant just off the Belmont Red Line shuttered its doors in the early 1950s, she took it as a sign. She pooled her life savings, bought the old eatery, and broiled her way into Chicago culinary history. Read on to find out why, more than 60 years later, Ann Sather Restaurants have become a fixture of rib-sticking eating:
Ann may have passed, but the restaurant is in capable hands. Before she died in 1996, Ann Sather made sure to recruit a worthy protegé. Tom Tunney was a 24-year-old hospitality-school graduate when he began apprenticing at Ann’s side, and by 1981 he was ready to take the reins. Today, he not only runs the restaurant chain—he also runs the entire 44th Ward of Chicago, having served as its alderman since 2003.
This is deliciously simple food. So simple, in fact, that you can try to recreate it in your own kitchen: either pick up a copy of the Ann Sather Cookbook or simply check out the recipes online. Still, there’s something to be said for letting the masters cook for you.
Do not, under any circumstances, miss out on the cinnamon rolls. The Food Network’s Ted Allen called them “a big hug from grandma in the morning,” so it’s no surprise that the restaurants serve 3–4,000 of the ostrich egg–sized pastries a day—and often double that on the weekends.
Don’t bother with reservations. They don’t take them. Call ahead if you’d like to see how busy it is, but count on the answer being “very.” That doesn’t mean the wait is interminable, though: a speedy table turnaround means you’ll have a piping-hot platter of crab cakes, swedish meatballs, or mustard dill salmon in no time.
It’s not a place for long, quiet conversations. The mood is bustling and boisterous, and like any grandmother or gingerbread-home-owning witch, Ann Sather wants you to eat, eat, eat. Don’t expect much space for an intimate discussion—though you may be too full to mind.