In one word – Overdelivered
Location – 2119 S. Halsted (21st and Halsted)
Food – OMG, I am so into Nightwood. I came upon several recommendations from friends around town and was not disappointed. My eating partner and I started with the roasted Japanese sweet potatoes served with breadcrumbs, parsley, capers and aioli. You know when you take a bite of something and then do a double take because there is a party in your mouth. Well, that happened for both of us. If you come here, I insist you have this as an appetizer. For entrees, my eating partner when for the spit-roasted half chicken served with mashed potates, rapini and gravy. The portion was huge and he was really happy with the execution. I went for the farfalle served with venison and mint. It was a small dish that was super filling – the venison was ground, so the sauce was more a slightly creamy ragu. I was closed to licking my plate clean. We were so full, so we skipped dessert. Next time, I will ensure I plan my meal better so I can indulge in sweetness.
Drink – We each started with a cocktail. I had the Wuthering Heights – Broker’s gin, earl grey tea, Cocchi Americano, egg white, rosemary and orange bitters. It felt like fall – felt like apple cider meets egg nog. Absolutely loved it. My eating partner had New Amsterdam – Buffalo Trace bourbon, Averna amaro, tawny port, brandied cherries and Nightwood bitters. He is a real bourbon lover and was raving about his drink.
Service – By now, you should know that I have a love for unpretentious, yet helpful service at a restaurant. Our server at Nightwood was perfect. She was this adorable hipster who didn’t push us through our meal and offered (really spot on) recommendations when we were ordering.
Occasion – I think you can come here for anything. Dinner with friends, a date, a birthday meal. I hear Nightwood has an excellent brunch, too.
Scene – So Pilsen is turning into the new Logan Square. The restaurant was hopping and was filled with those yuppie hipsters (you know what I’m talking about, they bathe but still wear plaid). The vibe of the restaurant is energetic. Awesome exposed brick, a beautiful bar, this AMAZING outdoor patio with a fireplace where you can wait for your table. I thought that that the tables were a bit close together. I had to suffer through listening to my neighbors say mean things about the University of Chicago (my alma mater) and could not interject my opinion.
Dress – Wear something that shows off your personality. There is no need to dress up. But, if you had an occasion to look nice, no one would look twice.
Price – I spent $46 and felt like it was a good value.
If you like, try…Lula (who also own Nightwood), Longman & Eagle, Publican
Location – 1640 W. 18th Street (18th and Ashland)
In one word – Friendly
Food – I was really excited to visit Mundial as I had received so many recommendations to go there. Mundial changes their menu (which I loved), so my experienced eating partner had as new of a menu as I did. We started with the empanadas. I liked that the dough was really flakey! For my main, I got the squash ravioli. It was served with a coconut cream sauce, probably not the healthiest choice…but those are the sacrificies I make in order to report on good food! We then ordered two desserts – both full of cream and sugar. My favorite was actually the ice cream recommended to us by our server.
Drink – The place is BYOB. As you know, I’m a real fan of BYOB, it’s the easiest way to keep costs down in a meal.
Service – I think by the end of the meal, we were good friends with our server. She took pleasure in the fact that we enjoyed the meal. It was really refreshing to be in a place where the staff felt responsible for whether or not their customers had a good experience.
Scene – I thought it was going to be a lot more trendy than it was. On a Thursday night, the place was filled with 30 and 40-somethings. I noticed that the floor was linoleum, which gives the restaurant a more casual vibe.
Dress – No need to dress up, especially going into summer. You’d be fine in jeans and a nice shirt (for both men and women)
Cost – We ordered a lot and I tipped really well, as a result, it was $39/person. However, I think you don’t have to order as much and could eat for $30.
If you like, try…May Street Cafe