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Boltwood- OMFG Evanston is back in style again!

Boltwood- OMFG Evanston is back in style again!
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  • Boltwood- OMFG Evanston is back in style again!

    Post #1 - June 21st, 2014, 10:16 pm
    Post #1 - June 21st, 2014, 10:16 pm Post #1 - June 21st, 2014, 10:16 pm
    My wife and I love Evanston, she has fond memories of college and post-college freedom and easy livin' and I grew up close by in Wilmette and always considered Evanston my backyard. The problem with Evanston is that for all the great little spots that we have enjoyed over the years like cross-rhodes, lucky platter and the pine yard of days gone by, fine dining has not been Evanston's strong suit of late. We have had lots of mediocre meals and bad service at the current crop of Etown hot-spots. None of them really merit a return trip based on food alone but somehow we tolerate them because we love Evanston--now the game has changed, hallelujah!

    Boltwood is Brian Huston's new restaurant located in the old LuLu's space on Davis and Sherman in Evanston. The place is unrecognizable as it has been completely revamped in what is now a really warm open and inviting space. There are several communal tables and an open kitchen. Lots of hard surfaces make the restaurant a bit noisy. when we mentioned it to our server she said that there are already plans in the works to tweak a few things to bring the volume down. I hope they don't do too much as the restaurant has a great energy and I would hate to see that change.

    I loved Huston's food at Publican. I also don't think that it is really fair to compare the two restaurants. If I were to say anything in that regard it is that the food at Boltwood really suited my taste. Some of what I love about the Publican is really evident in the cuisine, however Boltwood seems a little more carefully curated and refined. We had solid ordering power so we sampled and shared a wide variety of the items on the menu, some highlights (i didn't take notes or pictures and I'm a bit buzzed so bear with me)

    Charred prosciutto wrapped mozzarella- I dont even know how to describe this deliciousness. somehow the meat was charred without rendering the cheese into melted nothingness. the real deal delicious.
    tri-tip- love try-tip and wish it was served more around these parts, this was a very delicate treatment of a hearty piece of beef
    grilled black cod with artichokes- presented whole fish style and each bite was more tender and delicious than the next
    chicken adobo with crispy potatoes and sausage- fabulous, juicy with the right mixture of umami and sweet

    every bite was better than the last. desserts were great as well. If you are a coffee snob than you are in for a treat as they are one of only two or three places in the chicago area where you can get Stumptown coffee and the pour over coffee service is about as good as it gets in these parts.

    Anyway, I will be returning on a regular basis. IMHO, Evanston finally has a restaurant that is worth bragging about again. And that is a very good thing.

    Boltwood
    804 Davis St
    Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 859-2880
  • Post #2 - June 22nd, 2014, 9:37 am
    Post #2 - June 22nd, 2014, 9:37 am Post #2 - June 22nd, 2014, 9:37 am
    iblock9 wrote:We have had lots of mediocre meals and bad service at the current crop of Etown hot-spots.

    Try Found, Quince, Campagnola, and the recently-remodeled Oceanique.

    Thanks for the report. I'm glad to hear that Boltwood is firing on all cylinders, even in their opening week/weeks, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

    They have a website but it's not yet up: boltwoodevanston.com
  • Post #3 - June 22nd, 2014, 12:37 pm
    Post #3 - June 22nd, 2014, 12:37 pm Post #3 - June 22nd, 2014, 12:37 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:Try Found, Quince, Campagnola, and the recently-remodeled Oceanique.

    Not trying to slag on any other restaurants, but I have eaten at all of the above mentioned, and am very happy to have Boltwood in town.
  • Post #4 - June 24th, 2014, 9:51 pm
    Post #4 - June 24th, 2014, 9:51 pm Post #4 - June 24th, 2014, 9:51 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:
    iblock9 wrote:We have had lots of mediocre meals and bad service at the current crop of Etown hot-spots.

    Try Found, Quince, Campagnola, and the recently-remodeled Oceanique.

    Thanks for the report. I'm glad to hear that Boltwood is firing on all cylinders, even in their opening week/weeks, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

    They have a website but it's not yet up: boltwoodevanston.com

    Oceanique remodeled? That'd be great! Do you know when that was? I was there a couple of years ago (2?) and while the food was pretty good, the place smelled awful and looked even worse.
  • Post #5 - June 24th, 2014, 10:22 pm
    Post #5 - June 24th, 2014, 10:22 pm Post #5 - June 24th, 2014, 10:22 pm
    My guess is the remodel was about a year ago ... maybe a little more (Ken may know better). But we've been there since and it's been excellent.
  • Post #6 - June 25th, 2014, 8:31 am
    Post #6 - June 25th, 2014, 8:31 am Post #6 - June 25th, 2014, 8:31 am
    nr706 wrote:My guess is the remodel was about a year ago ...

    Sounds about right.

    nr706 wrote:But we've been there since and it's been excellent.

    Same here.
  • Post #7 - June 25th, 2014, 10:07 am
    Post #7 - June 25th, 2014, 10:07 am Post #7 - June 25th, 2014, 10:07 am
    FWIW we installed the speakers for the remodeled Oceanique space on 7.24.13
  • Post #8 - June 25th, 2014, 7:42 pm
    Post #8 - June 25th, 2014, 7:42 pm Post #8 - June 25th, 2014, 7:42 pm
    Thanks all!

    I'm going to Boltwood tomorrow, which brings this back on topic.

    Unless soccer goes badly. Then I will be too depressed to eat.
  • Post #9 - June 28th, 2014, 9:45 pm
    Post #9 - June 28th, 2014, 9:45 pm Post #9 - June 28th, 2014, 9:45 pm
    here a few shots from the 28th of June
    Image
    Image
    nice tight wine list with this as a standout value / rare chance to purchase
    that happened to go great with the food too!

    Image
    Favas & peas on toast (very nice)

    Image
    tasty east coast vs. west coast pairing (a few shell chips but plenty of liquor)
    Image
    Rapini with raspberries (nice combo)
    Image
    Whole Loup de Mer with Pepita and pickled squash

    Image
    Gnudi with carrots and peas & mint
  • Post #10 - July 11th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    Post #10 - July 11th, 2014, 7:02 pm Post #10 - July 11th, 2014, 7:02 pm
    First run at Boltwood this evening, dined at the bar.

    I share the OP's enthusiasm & think this place has the potential to be really good (perhaps exceptional) but they don't have it dialed in quite yet.

    Oysters to start (1/2 doz, chef selection) fresh as can be, delicate & briny, subtle mignonette, excellent.

    Sardine was OK, needs more work on the prep IMHO, seemed kind of uninspired, just OK. Not worth $12. They can do better & I bet they will given more time to work on it.

    Grilled sweetbreads were the highlight of the meal, these were really, really good w/ shaved cucumber & a mild cheesy base with fresh herbs. A+. Don't change a thing.

    Lamb riblets were terrible. Bland, undercooked and really fatty. Long way to go before these will be good. Go to Psisteria if you have a taste for these.

    Potatoes with garlic & schmaltz were excellent. Crispy, fatty, with a nicely paired aoli. I would order these again without hesitation.

    Overall, I am excited to see what these folks will be putting out going forward. It's still really early in their life, way too soon to be overly harsh. Give them some time to refine the menu & I think this place will be really good consistently.

    Great addition to the Evanston dining scene, I look forward to returning & working my way through the menu.
    I exist in Chicago, but I live in New Orleans.
  • Post #11 - July 11th, 2014, 8:34 pm
    Post #11 - July 11th, 2014, 8:34 pm Post #11 - July 11th, 2014, 8:34 pm
    I agree with ChiNOLA - at least about the spare ribs. The promised preserved lemon was almost absent from the dish. I didn't have a full meal and other dishes may well be better. But at this point I put Boltwood in the category of Farmhouse. A lot of potential.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #12 - July 21st, 2014, 3:21 pm
    Post #12 - July 21st, 2014, 3:21 pm Post #12 - July 21st, 2014, 3:21 pm
    Plusses: Food very good. Their version of prosciutto and melon is outstanding. My entree was a deliberately "plain" one because I wanted to see what they could bring to something plain: the roasted half chicken. It was exceptional. All parts of the chicken cooked just right and very flavorful; they definitely bring something interesting to this dish. The side of schmaltz-fried potatoes was also a hit with everyone.

    Minuses: Young server was nice but seemed a little "undertrained," is the only way I can put it. Offered opinions and descriptions that indicated a less than thorough knowledge of what she was talking about (would have been far better if she'd just stayed within her comfort zone). Restaurant is far too noisy; it's yet another of those places that seeks to build a sense of "happening" with decibel levels that make conversation difficult if not impossible. Truly, despite how nice the food was, this is a deal breaker for us--we go to a restaurant to enjoy good food, of course, but also to be able to hear each other speak and not have to scream in order to be heard, and therefore we will not return unless we hear word that the noise problem has been addressed. One more minus--lag time between ordering drinks and getting them was inexplicably long on the first round (but better on the second, probably because we brought the problem to the server's attention; give her credit for learning).
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #13 - July 21st, 2014, 4:01 pm
    Post #13 - July 21st, 2014, 4:01 pm Post #13 - July 21st, 2014, 4:01 pm
    I agree on the noise. We got there very early and were seated in the far corner. By the time we left, we realized that if we were in the middle of it all, it would be too loud for us. Food was good, but this will cause hesitation on a return.

    Jonah
  • Post #14 - July 25th, 2014, 6:00 am
    Post #14 - July 25th, 2014, 6:00 am Post #14 - July 25th, 2014, 6:00 am
    Hi- I get emails every week about what Henry Brockmen is bringing to the Evanston market, and in this weeks email I found out that Henry is going to be doing a garlic tasting at Boltwood tomorrow 7/26 from 2:30-3:30. you will be able to sample all eight variates that he raises. The garlic tasting is free, but the bar is going to be open if you want to purchase a drink. One of the variates he is growing this year is a Korean spicy garlic. I have been told by Henry that it is really spicy. I might go to this. Hope to see some of my LTH friends too. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #15 - July 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    Post #15 - July 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm Post #15 - July 25th, 2014, 1:46 pm
    Hi- As far as I know Brian Huston is going to be at the garlic tasting tomorrow at Boltwood, and so people here can voice their displeasure about the sound volume at the restaurant directly to him. I am not sure if this is going to be an easy fix, but at least he will be aware that some people here are turned off by it. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #16 - July 25th, 2014, 2:08 pm
    Post #16 - July 25th, 2014, 2:08 pm Post #16 - July 25th, 2014, 2:08 pm
    If he can hear us. :lol:
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #17 - July 26th, 2014, 9:10 am
    Post #17 - July 26th, 2014, 9:10 am Post #17 - July 26th, 2014, 9:10 am
    Not to make too big a deal of it, but sound levels subjectively perceived as "deafening" really are. That is, with sufficient exposure, they actually do result in permanent hearing loss at higher frequencies. I wouldn't be opposed to municipal ordinances that called on maximum decibel level limits in restaurants. Some might call that "nanny state." Some might also object to the ban on cigarette smoking in restaurants as "nanny state," but enough people are now aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke to counter the objectors. More awareness needs to be brought to the longterm health risk of prolonged excessive noise.
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #18 - July 26th, 2014, 10:27 am
    Post #18 - July 26th, 2014, 10:27 am Post #18 - July 26th, 2014, 10:27 am
    Hi- I have tinnitus or ringing in the ear, which I have had for 10 years. If anybody knows of a cure PM me. I also have definite hearing loss in one of my ears, and so I try to avoid super loud environments at all costs. I would have no problems if they started cracking down on excessively loud noises. BTW- When I was at the farmer's market today, there were signs up at Henry's stand saying that the garlic tasting started at 2:00, and I asked Henry, and he told me that the information on the sign was wrong, and it does start at 2:30. I think I am going to go to the garlic tasting today, and if I see Brian there, I will mention that he should check out all the comments here about the noise level in his restaurant. Sidewalk sales are going on in downtown Evanston this weekend too. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #19 - July 26th, 2014, 6:41 pm
    Post #19 - July 26th, 2014, 6:41 pm Post #19 - July 26th, 2014, 6:41 pm
    Hi- Well I went to the garlic tasting today at Boltwood, and it was really noisy in there. I did not get to talk to Brian because he was talking to Henry, and then he went to cut some more bread to put the garlic on, and I was afraid he would not be able to hear me. When I walked pass the restaurant again around 6:00, the place was packed.

    I got to sample some interesting garlic varieties, and the spicy Korean was not as spicy as I thought it would be. There was another garlic that I really liked, and I will have to visit Henry's blog to see if I can figure out which one it was. Henry was actually sampling the garlic himself and taking notes. They had a large crowd there for the garlic tasting.
  • Post #20 - July 26th, 2014, 7:04 pm
    Post #20 - July 26th, 2014, 7:04 pm Post #20 - July 26th, 2014, 7:04 pm
    I was there, too, and with all the hard surfaces, it was obvious the room could get very loud easily.

    I thought the tasting was interesting, although the differences between the various garlics seemed a bit subtle to me. I think I liked the two on the right end of the lineup of eight (Music and Russian Red) best:
    Image

    I'm looking forward to the future comparative tastings of other items from Henry's Farm at boltwood. (Note that all their signage uses a lower case B.)
  • Post #21 - July 26th, 2014, 7:22 pm
    Post #21 - July 26th, 2014, 7:22 pm Post #21 - July 26th, 2014, 7:22 pm
    Hi- It was the inchelium red garlic that I liked the best. I did not realize that they are doing other tastings there. I could see a tomato one being feasible. It was nice to see so many people there, and I could not believe how crowded the farmer's market was at 10:15 today. It was a really nice today today though. Last Saturday it was raining, and there were still lots of customers, although not as many as today. I am glad to see the farmer's doing lots of business. One of the farmer's from my home town goes to four different farmer's markets every week. She is the one that sells a ton of raspberries, and she told me that she does more business at Evanston, than she does at the other three markets combined.
  • Post #22 - August 7th, 2014, 12:29 pm
    Post #22 - August 7th, 2014, 12:29 pm Post #22 - August 7th, 2014, 12:29 pm
    When Amy Morton opened Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston in 2012, weekend wait times for a table averaged two and a half hours. The farm-to-table concept was soaring in Chicago, but it was still new in the North Shore suburb.

    “It was an empty canvas,” Ms. Morton says. “There was a huge void.” While a few restaurants, including Quince at the Homestead and Union Pizzeria, were offering more contemporary dining, Evanston locals often went to Chicago for a night out. Now, Ms. Morton says, Evanston has become a dining destination for Chicagoans.

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/ ... on-get-hip
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #23 - August 19th, 2014, 6:07 pm
    Post #23 - August 19th, 2014, 6:07 pm Post #23 - August 19th, 2014, 6:07 pm
    Vettel's review today says they have installed sound paneling to significantly reduce the noise level:

    Restaurant review: Boltwood, in Evanston
  • Post #24 - August 20th, 2014, 8:06 am
    Post #24 - August 20th, 2014, 8:06 am Post #24 - August 20th, 2014, 8:06 am
    I have to agree with Vettel's assessment of what is going on over at Boltwood. At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, Houston is knocking it out of the park. Love this place.
  • Post #25 - August 20th, 2014, 11:52 am
    Post #25 - August 20th, 2014, 11:52 am Post #25 - August 20th, 2014, 11:52 am
    Hi- I just received an email that Henry Brockman is going to be doing a tomato tasting at Boltwood this Saturday August 23rd from 2:30-3:30. He is going to have 20 different tomatoes to sample. You are supposed to sign up on Facebook. I assume it is Henry's facebook page. When I figure this out, I will give a link. It will be nice to find out if the sound is definitely improved compared to what it was at the garlic tasting a few weeks ago. They will be accepting donations for the documentary, that is being filmed about Henry next month too. BTW- Henry still has the junior citizen discount at the Evanston market for people in their 20's. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #26 - August 20th, 2014, 12:53 pm
    Post #26 - August 20th, 2014, 12:53 pm Post #26 - August 20th, 2014, 12:53 pm
    Hi- I looked at my email again, and there is a special facebook page that has been set up for the tomato tasting. I just signed up for it. Here is the link.

    https://www.facebook.com/events/543157402456720/

    Disregard the fact that the facebook page says that the tomato tasting is going to take place from Aug. 23rd at 2:30 pm, to Aug. 24th at 3:30 pm. I think that Henry would run out of tomatoes long before then.
  • Post #27 - August 21st, 2014, 4:35 pm
    Post #27 - August 21st, 2014, 4:35 pm Post #27 - August 21st, 2014, 4:35 pm
    On our recent visit the mussels in a Korean-inspired chili sauce and the octopus were standouts. The meat dishes were immediately forgettable. Appetizers were also just okay (with the exception of the pickled squash strips, which were great) and given the just-average quality, they were overpriced (Castelvetrano olives with a few strips of pickled peppers is not only uninspired, it's lazy). Not rushing back anytime soon. By way of contrast, when we first tried Found, we went back three times in two weeks (and while I enjoy their food, Found's cocktail pricing is pretty obscene).

    Although it's not really in the same geographic area, if I'm heading North for a meal, I think Libertad is more satisfying all around. I know it's not comparable on a number of levels, but I feel that it offers a better value for a more consistent experience.
  • Post #28 - August 22nd, 2014, 3:19 pm
    Post #28 - August 22nd, 2014, 3:19 pm Post #28 - August 22nd, 2014, 3:19 pm
    I am just reminding people that the tomato tasting is taking place at Boltwood tomorrow from 2:30-3:30. There are going to be 20 different tomato varieties to sample. Only 18 people have signed up for it on Facebook. BTW- Henry is bringing 1,000 pounds of heirloom tomatoes to the Evanston market tomorrow, as well as 1,000 pounds of melons. He always has free samples of his melons, and all his stuff is certified organic. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #29 - August 23rd, 2014, 9:06 am
    Post #29 - August 23rd, 2014, 9:06 am Post #29 - August 23rd, 2014, 9:06 am
    nsxtasy wrote:Vettel's review today says they have installed sound paneling to significantly reduce the noise level:

    Restaurant review: Boltwood, in Evanston


    I'm glad to see that my post here got results. :wink:
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #30 - August 23rd, 2014, 5:19 pm
    Post #30 - August 23rd, 2014, 5:19 pm Post #30 - August 23rd, 2014, 5:19 pm
    My recent meals at Publican have been depressing. When Koren left avec, I was sad but the next two chefs have respected and often even lived up to her legacy even (if they're parroting it at times). I can't say that about the new bro (word choice deliberate) at Publican.

    Huston left a gaping hole as wide as the Grand Canyon at Publican when it comes to talent, execution and creativity. And maybe the masses don't feel it, but anyone who's dined there more than a few times will be as sad as I am. The new bro just can't cut it.

    Fulton Market's loss is Evanston's epic gain.

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