A Delicious Dynasty—Sovereign’s lofty farm-to-fork menu has an independent spirit

July 2017 View more


It’s a word that conjures visions of towering castles atop high, fortified embankments, affording their royal inhabitants commanding views of the surrounding countryside and assorted peasantry. Far less mentally reflexive, on the other hand, is an image of a modest former home situated on a quiet stretch of Lockport Street in the heart of Plainfield’s quaint downtown.

But the cozy eatery that carries the name and fits this latter description isn’t about outward displays of grandeur or opulence. Likewise, the masses that regularly converge here are clearly driven by a desire to pay fealty only to the twenty-first century power coupling of a thoughtful craft beer slate and an ambitious farm-to-table menu. It’s what makes the kingdom of Sovereign—and the worthy pursuit of one of the limited number of tables or highly coveted seats at the center bar—a very open and welcoming domain indeed.

Agricultural Inputs

In choosing a deliriously rainy and windswept Sunday evening for our visit, we avoided the crush that reportedly greets most Friday and Saturday nights and found several available high-tops. Unfortunately, the inclement weather also meant forgoing a seat on the outdoor deck, which is surely a treasured spot to enjoy a cold pint and watch life in the western suburbs go by on a pleasant summer day.

Despite the thinner crowd, the wait staff was abuzz with activity for much of our visit, tending to a steady stream of refugees from the storm and frequently checking with the kitchen to ensure the availability of menu items. For alas, one of the sobering realities of the farm-to-table philosophy is that certain fresh-from-the-field ingredients are highly subject to the immutable laws of supply and demand. If we had had an eye on the night’s special venison steak, for instance, time was of the essence, with only three cuts remaining as we took our seats.

A similar scarcity applied to the Brussels sprouts small plate, which we ordered to share, waiting with fingers crossed as our server retreated to the back to check the stock. A bountiful harvest in this case benefitted not only the farmer who grew the diminutive cabbage, but our table as well. These seasoned and charred beauties proved an ideal sidekick for our other communal prelude—a steaming bowl of the day’s risotto, featuring red peppers, scallions, bacon and cheese in a creamy, satisfying, could-have-been-my-last-meal blend.       

Name Game

An entrée list characterized by its lineup of clever names can be a red flag—as in I came in for a good meal and all I got was this lousy pun—but Sovereign mostly backs up the tongue in its cheek. It would be hard to raise much of an objection to a Seinfeldian sandwich called George Likes His Chicken Spicy, after all, and even harder still to find fault with either of our two selections. The Wiccan Chicken was a crispy breaded filet bathed in a tangy glaze astride chunky garlic mashed potatoes and toothsome carrots. On the opposite side of the table I was enjoying Paradise by the Dashboard Light (for the first time in my life, I might add)—two dense slabs of ground-brisket meatloaf  piled high and slathered in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce.

Not listed on the menu (and thus not saddled with a pop culture moniker) was the evening’s sole dessert option—an outstanding Limoncino pie that stood alone for reasons having nothing to do with a lack of sweet siblings. It was just the kind of punctuation that helped reaffirm our belief that life under the benevolent reign of this Sovereign kingdom is indeed a blessing for the good subjects of Plainfield.

24205 West Lockport Street, Plainfield