Brisku's Bistro is more bar than bistro and more Brisku than anything else. Owner Leke (rhymes with deck) Brisku has labeled his five-year-old Irving Park neighborhood joint as "his kind of place," which makes it hard to classify.
A Turkish chef presides over the Mediterranean menu, and Brisku's Albanian heritage pops up on the beer menu (such as Birra Tirana), the bar and the walls. The sporting element of the bar is decidedly Chicagoan, with weeknight specials on food and drinks and free pool every Wednesday. Patrons can entertain themselves with the two free dartboards, handful of televisions and the jukebox featuring everyone from Metallica to Miles.
My favorite Brisku curiosity was the hand-pumped, cask-conditioned firkin, which is the only draft beer available. With over sixty bottled beers to choose from—from Duvel to Fat Tire to Mickey's($3 domestics; $4 most imports)—and a fine selection of single-malt scotches and ever-flowing Jameson, my buddy and I never made it to the food part of Brisku's. The regulars raved over the Turkish pizza, but the menu ranges from qevapa (seasoned links served with feta and onions) to burgers to shrimp tourkolimano (shrimp sauteed in marinara sauce, garlic and feta) to baby lamb chops. Entrees range from $6-$16.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Robert Duffer