Chicago: Nightwood

It has all the makings of a perfect neighborhood restaurant: A terribly charming and adorable staff, a prime corner location right down the street from the hood’s best bar (Skylark), and a gorgeous, semi-rustic dining room that seems to have a permanent glow about it. Unfortunately, residents of the Pilsen neighborhood will have no chance to make Nightwood their own. Even though it’s only been around for a week, the restaurant is already a destination. This comes as a surprise to precisely no one. The cult that worships at Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds’s other restaurant, Lula Cafe, has been holding its breath for the past 15 months as they waited for this place to open. But the sheer simplicity of Nightwood’s food almost seems to be at odds with the fanfare surrounding it. Perfectly cooked trout arrives with nothing more than a few sweet beets; hearty pork rib ravioli merely gets tossed with some salted butter; a roast beef sandwich is dressed with just a smear of chicken liver. In fact, it’s a salad of all things—a lamb-and-pork ragu topped with spicy greens and poached egg—that’s as complicated as chef Jason Vincent’s menu gets. Vincent could probably throw a few more ingredients into every dish and nobody would blink. Preparing food any more satisfying than this, however, would be a challenge.

Nightwood 2119 S. Halsted St., Chicago (312-526-3385;



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