Pilsen, so hot right now.
The Pilsen neighborhood has transformed a lot over the years - it was originally a Czech immigrant base and later transitioned to a large Hispanic and Latino population beginning in the 1950's. Today, you may notice a recent influx of art galleries and fedoras. But we aren't here to discuss our thoughts on gentrification and hipster domination. What we will say, however, is that the changing economics of the area makes for a diverse restaurant scene, and for those of you who think Pilsen is in a different world, it's time to get over that. Nightwood, a farm to table restaurant and sister establishment to Logan Square's Lula Cafe, is deserving of a visit.
At Nightwood, the space fits in nicely with its art gallery neighbors. And while you can't eat the modern art sculpture that probably popped up next door, you can eat the array of fresh ingredients they are cranking out of Nightwood's kitchen. There are also a number of seating options at which to enjoy the food - a bar, a main dining room, an open kitchen with front row counter seats, an outdoor patio for when the weather turns, and a private wine cellar if you're ever in need. We most recently sat at the counter, and we'd be lying if we said watching the preparation and service of the food didn't help dictate our meal. The counter is highly recommended for a party of two, and it’s particularly Perfect For any First/Early in the Game Dates.
Nightwood’s menu is handwritten daily with constantly rotating offerings, so it’s tough to accurately suggest what will be available for you to eat. For a place that prides itself on fresh farm to table ingredients and presentation, it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to serve the same things year round. What you can expect year round is Nightwood’s $16 version of a Big Mac and Fries, so consider that a cheaper route to experiencing the vibes of a place that can otherwise help you rack up a bit of a bill.
Also, brunch. Nightwood is doing brunch year round. The Brunch Cleanse might just be a late addition to The Hottest New Diet Trends of 2015. It involves purging the toxins in your body with Bloody Marys and Nightwood's bacon butterscotch glazed donut with house-smoked bacon crumbles on top, so that's definitely some sh*t you need to know.
The menu changes often, so we can't promise you'll see all of this when you go.
Focaccia and Onion Butter
Fresh, warm, and delivered to every table after ordering. The onion butter and oil served with it are great.
Veal Short Rib Casoncelli
Casoncelli is a stuffed pasta, in this case with a short rib filling. It wasn't bad, but as an appetizer we don't think we'd order it again.
Scrambled Egg, Runny Yolk, Ricotta, Michigan Trout Roe, Guanciale
Trying to explain this dish wouldn't do it justice, and would most likely make you not want to order it at all. That being said, it was delicious. Imagine a runny yolk with some ricotta, trout roe and cured meat on top, so if you see something similar at least order it for the Instagram alone.
Bucatini with Clams and Rabbit Ragu
We weren't going to order the bucatini until we watched it prepared and plated for someone else. The handmade pasta is perfectly done, and the rabbit ragu was f*cking awesome.
A delicately cooked piece of bass accompanied by a frisee salad, complete with an egg on top. Our guess is if you like simple and lean fish, then anything similar on the current menu will be just as good.
This should always be there. Two patties, cheddar, an onion ring, pickles, mustard, special sauce, and fries. A worthy sixteen dollar burger.