Right next to Keefer's Restaurant, a steakhouse in River North, is Keefer's Kaffe, an unsurprisingly affiliated sandwich, soup, and salad joint. It offers a variety of relatively simple but well-executed dishes that offer an affordable lunch to the dozens of businessmen talking finance who frequent it.
The Chicken Cutlet Panini ($9.00) offers a wide range of different flavors, all individually well-prepared. The bread was nicely toasted, providing the right crunchy shell for the steamy ingredients that lived underneath. The roasted red pepper and portobello mushrooms provided a great foundation, and the balsamic vinaigrette was rich, yet sour. There was little doubt that the mozzarella was as fresh as advertised—melty, stringy, creamy, a bit sour and probably the best part of the sandwich.
While I am not usually a fan of breaded meat on sandwiches, the sautéed chicken with seasoned bread crumbs worked well enough here, even if the breading leaned more towards the "bread" than "seasoned." The only real gripe with the sandwich was its lack of balance. The very few well-proportioned bites were fantastic, but other times one ingredient would overpower the rest in an unfortunate way. The bites overwhelmed by the balsamic vinaigrette were especially unappreciated. Not enough to destroy the sandwich, but enough that those particular bites got eaten a little faster than the rest.
About the author: Nathan Lurz is an intern at Serious Eats Chicago. When he's not reviewing the occasional sammich, he spends his time trying to convince people to pay him to be a journalist, working at the non-partisan political news site Reboot Illinois, and being amazed he is a professional sandwich reviewer. Follow his wittiness on Twitter at @LurzBlurbz