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  • Nightwood

    Post #1 - May 26th, 2009, 3:01 pm
    Post #1 - May 26th, 2009, 3:01 pm Post #1 - May 26th, 2009, 3:01 pm
    Nightwood, the new restaurant by the folks behind Lula, is now officially open after a week or so of "friends and family" only. I think they'll be open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. There's talk of a late-night menu but I don't know if that's happening right away.

    My impressions based on a visit on one of the soft-opening nights was definitely positive. The space itself is nice, with lots of windows and an open, airy feel. It has a large, open kitchen with seating right at the counter on top of all the action.

    The food was simple, seasonal, and very tasty. I've seen early versions of the wine and beer list, and if they haven't changed dramatically, they're pretty interesting, with similar price-points as Lula (ie, pretty reasonable.)

    I have no idea about the prices of the food, since they weren't on their soft-opening menu.

    Full disclosure: I have lots of friends that work at Lula, so therefore a connection to Nightwood to some degree. But if I hadn't truly enjoyed my meal there I wouldn't have posted at all; they definitely don't need me to shill for them!

    The website currently only has a homepage, no info beyond name and address, alas.

    Nightwood
    2119 S. Halsted
    312-526-3385
    http://nightwoodrestaurant.com/
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #2 - May 26th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    Post #2 - May 26th, 2009, 3:43 pm Post #2 - May 26th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    geli wrote:Nightwood, the new restaurant by the folks behind Lula, is now officially open after a week or so of "friends and family" only. I think they'll be open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. There's talk of a late-night menu but I don't know if that's happening right away.

    Thanks for the tip. Do you know if, unlike Lula, they'll be accepting reservations? I've been trying to call and there's no answer and no voice mail.

    Thanks,
    Ronna
  • Post #3 - May 26th, 2009, 10:27 pm
    Post #3 - May 26th, 2009, 10:27 pm Post #3 - May 26th, 2009, 10:27 pm
    I don't know, but I'll probably find out tomorrow, although by then someone may have beaten me to the punch!
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #4 - May 27th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    Post #4 - May 27th, 2009, 12:16 pm Post #4 - May 27th, 2009, 12:16 pm
    Still no idea about reservations, but chicagoist.com has some nice pictures (including a shot of the menu).

    http://chicagoist.com/2009/05/27/first_ ... =1#gallery
    Anthony Bourdain on Barack Obama: "He's from Chicago, so he knows what good food is."
  • Post #5 - May 27th, 2009, 12:40 pm
    Post #5 - May 27th, 2009, 12:40 pm Post #5 - May 27th, 2009, 12:40 pm
    They accept reservations for large groups only, and the restaurant is BYO while they wait for their liquor license. Sunday brunch is in the works.
  • Post #6 - May 27th, 2009, 12:44 pm
    Post #6 - May 27th, 2009, 12:44 pm Post #6 - May 27th, 2009, 12:44 pm
    kates wrote:They accept reservations for large groups only, and the restaurant is BYO while they wait for their liquor license. Sunday brunch is in the works.
    Thanks!

    Although I don't think anyone's getting a reservation, even for big groups. Last night, their phone rang, but no one answered. Now, when you call, it immediately gives you a message that the voicemail is not in service. Oh well.

    Wonder what qualifies as a large group? I can't imagine it would be tough to get an LTH group together for a fine meal and some BYOB. Guess we'll have to wait until they're answering their phones, though!

    Ronna
  • Post #7 - May 27th, 2009, 2:06 pm
    Post #7 - May 27th, 2009, 2:06 pm Post #7 - May 27th, 2009, 2:06 pm
    REB wrote:Wonder what qualifies as a large group? I can't imagine it would be tough to get an LTH group together for a fine meal and some BYOB. Guess we'll have to wait until they're answering their phones, though!

    Ronna



    Count me in for sure, although I think I am going to try for tonight or this weekend.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #8 - May 28th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Post #8 - May 28th, 2009, 1:49 pm Post #8 - May 28th, 2009, 1:49 pm
    Reader blog and multiple tweets today say Nightwood got its liquor license.
  • Post #9 - May 28th, 2009, 2:27 pm
    Post #9 - May 28th, 2009, 2:27 pm Post #9 - May 28th, 2009, 2:27 pm
    Anyone else find "Nightwood" to be a creepy name for a restaurant?
  • Post #10 - May 28th, 2009, 2:38 pm
    Post #10 - May 28th, 2009, 2:38 pm Post #10 - May 28th, 2009, 2:38 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Anyone else find "Nightwood" to be a creepy name for a restaurant?


    Not a Djuna Barnes fan, hunh?
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #11 - May 28th, 2009, 2:41 pm
    Post #11 - May 28th, 2009, 2:41 pm Post #11 - May 28th, 2009, 2:41 pm
    aschie30 wrote:Anyone else find "Nightwood" to be a creepy name for a restaurant?


    No more so than Morningwood.

    Wait: no more so than Brown Sack.

    edited for illumination
    Last edited by Santander on May 31st, 2009, 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #12 - May 28th, 2009, 2:43 pm
    Post #12 - May 28th, 2009, 2:43 pm Post #12 - May 28th, 2009, 2:43 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:Anyone else find "Nightwood" to be a creepy name for a restaurant?


    Not a Djuna Barnes fan, hunh?


    The funny thing is, I didn't even think of her novel - the name just conjured up images of wormwood, or some type of bug that lives burrowed in wood. Dunno, it doesn't appeal as a restaurant name.

    Is there a restaurant called Morningwood? Between Nightwood and Lockwood, we've got the "woods" covered in Chicago.
  • Post #13 - May 28th, 2009, 2:44 pm
    Post #13 - May 28th, 2009, 2:44 pm Post #13 - May 28th, 2009, 2:44 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:
    aschie30 wrote:Anyone else find "Nightwood" to be a creepy name for a restaurant?


    Not a Djuna Barnes fan, hunh?


    The funny thing is, I didn't even think of her novel - the name just conjured up images of wormwood, or some type of bug that lives burrowed in wood. Dunno, it doesn't appeal as a restaurant name.

    Is there a restaurant called Morningwood? Between Nightwood and Lockwood, we've got the "woods" covered in Chicago.


    I think the name is brilliant. That book is wonky and wonderful.
  • Post #14 - May 31st, 2009, 9:52 am
    Post #14 - May 31st, 2009, 9:52 am Post #14 - May 31st, 2009, 9:52 am
    I popped in early Sat evening (I actually arrived at 5:25 and they weren't open yet). The door opened promptly at 5:30 and I followed about 2-3 groups in, as well as a Metromix photographer. Maybe this is the beginning of another waiting-to-open-outside-Frontera type of thing?

    I only came for a cocktail and appetizer, so I sat at the bar. I ordered the starter pasta (they seem to rotate one or two primi pasta dishes with seasonal ingredients), which this evening was little handmade semolina pasta, like gnocchi, served over cured trout belly, and sauteed with morels and bread crumbs. The dish was a small portion but huge on flavor, and just what I was looking for.

    Image

    The pasta was firm, but not gummy, and the trout and morel mushrooms played very well off each other, with the bread crumbs adding a nice crunch. I think this dish was $10. It went remarkably well with my Ransom "Old Tom" gin, too.

    I did attend one of the friends & family dinners the previous Saturday night, and I and my two fellow diners had a great meal. We shared 3 appetizers and 3 entrees, plus one dessert (lmited only due to a food allergy at the table). I chose the rotisserie 1/2 chicken over white beans and ramps. I can honestly say that if you are looking for a "value meal" that will fill you up, this is the winner. That was one big-ass half chicken!

    I will be trying the wood-grilled burger on my next visit and am looking forward to sitting at the kitchen counter and watching the action. By the time I left around 6:30 the seats were all taken at the counter, and there were only 2 or 3 empty tables in the restaurant. Nobody was sitting out on the lovely patio, unfortunately, even though the weather was ideal.

    They do have their liquor license now, the wine list is well-designed, with many interesting varietals and a good mix of price-points from high 20's toward the 80-90 range on a few, and about 6-7 whites and 10 reds by-the-glass. They have a nice beer selection as well, not all of them had arrived so the bartender told me that eventually there will be around 15 beers.

    They have filtered water "on tap" either still or sparkling as well, which is awesome since they reuse the bottles and don't charge for the bubbly water that I love to drink while dining!

    Oh, one more thing I almost forgot: they have a downstairs room that has 2 large communal tables and a cozy little banquet with ottoman tables. I was told that they use this space for large party reservations as well as overflow on the busier nights. It's a great space, although those who wish to be "in the mix" will most likely want to stay top-side.

    They are open Tue-Sat dinner only, but the bartender said Sunday brunch will be starting soon.
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #15 - July 5th, 2009, 8:16 pm
    Post #15 - July 5th, 2009, 8:16 pm Post #15 - July 5th, 2009, 8:16 pm
    Anyone been to Nightwood more recently? I'm hoping to get there this week...
  • Post #16 - July 6th, 2009, 6:47 am
    Post #16 - July 6th, 2009, 6:47 am Post #16 - July 6th, 2009, 6:47 am
    I haven't been since I last posted, but I just got an email newsletter saying that their patio is now open, and they are now taking reservations of any size.
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #17 - July 6th, 2009, 10:21 am
    Post #17 - July 6th, 2009, 10:21 am Post #17 - July 6th, 2009, 10:21 am
    I went with my wife a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The short rib gnocchi appetizer with cream freche sauce and chives was amazing, as was the deep fried asparagus wrapped in smoked trout appetizer.

    The main course was also delicious: braised smoked pork shoulder served on garlic toast topped with a beautifully cooked sunny side up fried egg.

    I also sat at the bar and thoroughly enjoyed watching the cookstaff prepare the meals. I would propose that working in a kitchen where you are constantly in view of the customers would not be the best situation to work in, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it highly.

    TC
  • Post #18 - July 8th, 2009, 8:56 am
    Post #18 - July 8th, 2009, 8:56 am Post #18 - July 8th, 2009, 8:56 am
    Can any of you Nightwooders (Nightwoodies? Nightwoodists?) comment on the relative kid-friendliness of the place? Specifically:

    Is service quick, normal, or slow?

    Is the noise level above whisper but below din?

    Does the menu tend to have some non-adventurous items on it (e.g., burger, grilled chicken)?

    Do you think the kitchen would make simple accomodations to recipes (e.g., a sauce on the side, or omitted)?

    I'm aiming for something that can accomodate a 7 year-old.

    Thanks!
  • Post #19 - July 8th, 2009, 8:32 pm
    Post #19 - July 8th, 2009, 8:32 pm Post #19 - July 8th, 2009, 8:32 pm
    We have a seven year old, who doesn't possess a particularly adventurous palette and though we are comfortable taking him to Dave's Italian Kitchen, or Pannino, not too many other restaurants would fit the bill for a night out for Evan.

    That would include Nightwood.

    It is loud-ish, and I suppose you could take an 8 year old there, but it all depends on what he and you are used to.
  • Post #20 - July 9th, 2009, 8:11 am
    Post #20 - July 9th, 2009, 8:11 am Post #20 - July 9th, 2009, 8:11 am
    To first answer rdb66's question: service is fairly quick, the noise level is easy early in the evening, but as the room fills it will grow due to more people of course. They do have a quiet room downstairs that has 2 large communal tables, but is a great spot if you don't want the hustle/bustle, have a kid, want a quiet romantic dinner, etc. there is a row of banquets there along the wall that might be attractive to a 7yr old.

    I was in last night and finally sat at the kitchen counter (it filled up quick last time I was in). This was a great opportunity to see the dishes being prepared and chat with the chef and crew as well. I arrived around 6pm and most tables were still open, as was the counter and bar. I grabbed the stool closest to the front, so I was within chatting distance of chef Jason...oh, and I was the ONLY person sitting at the counter until a couple sat down at the end of my meal.

    Image
    View from my swivel-stool, with the staff plating up some pastas, salads or other appetizers.

    rdb66: chef was making special adjustments for a few patrons due to diet (vegan, etc) so I feel that they would be okay with requests for your kidlet.

    I started with the Burrata appetizer, which is a fresh Italian cheese, similar to Mozzarella, made from Buffalo milk. There was a large scoop of cheese, paired with garlic toast points, roasted fennel puree, and all drizzled with lovage oil. SO good! Especially with a glass of Bugey-Cerdon!

    Image

    I must have looked lonely and skinny, because the chef sent me a small portion of the daily soup (called Stone Soup on the menu) - they had a table doing a chef's tasting I think, so were doing some small portion dishes.

    Image
    Wisconsin vegetable soup with goat cheese gnocchi

    Chef introduced it and said that he was camping with his family in WI last weekend and stopped at the Madison farmer's market on the way home, great mix of kale, cauliflower, potato, etc with a savory broth. the little goat cheese gnocchi were a great addition.

    I had burger on the brain (passed on it on previous visits, so was determined to get it this time) and was very happy with my order.

    Image
    Burger with WI cheddar, seasoned fries, and house-made pickle

    The burger was cooked a perfect mid-rare (I would've taken a pic but my hands were messy with burger and cheese juices), the fries were delicious, and the pickle was outstanding. chef said they use champagne vinegar, which gave it a touch of sweetness. The cheddar cheese is thinned with a bit of PBR, so it was oozy, but tasted great, especially on the plate mixed with some fries :) I paired it with a sangiovese/cab blend which went very nicely.

    I had to pass on dessert (I couldn't even finish the burger), but was sad about that. The pastry chef gave me a hard time, but I will be back for more dessert! They were using a lot of fresh berries...

    On the way out, I took this pic of the patio right before they sat a table. It was a cool, drizzly day so not many takers. I would've sat outside if my GF was with me, it's a covered patio and very serene.

    Image

    I'm planning on sitting on the patio next visit, if this summer ever settles in!
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #21 - July 9th, 2009, 8:58 am
    Post #21 - July 9th, 2009, 8:58 am Post #21 - July 9th, 2009, 8:58 am
    Thanks for the feedback on kid-friendliness. We are having an early dinner in a couple of weeks with my favorite cousin, whom the 7-year-old has a big crush on, btw. It would be nice to have a long enough dinner to catch up with the cousin, in an environment where conversation and laughter is both welcome and possible, but not so fancy that the kid goes stir-crazy.
  • Post #22 - July 9th, 2009, 8:59 am
    Post #22 - July 9th, 2009, 8:59 am Post #22 - July 9th, 2009, 8:59 am
    wino66 wrote:On the way out, I took this pic of the patio right before they sat a table. It was a cool, drizzly day so not many takers. I would've sat outside if my GF was with me, it's a covered patio and very serene.

    Image

    I'm planning on sitting on the patio next visit, if this summer ever settles in!

    wino-

    You'll have to report back and let us know if the seating on the patio qualifies for the Tiniest/most uncomfortable seating in Chicago? I know that I wouldn't be comfortable on the jenga pieces pictured above!

    -The GP
    -Mary
  • Post #23 - July 9th, 2009, 9:38 am
    Post #23 - July 9th, 2009, 9:38 am Post #23 - July 9th, 2009, 9:38 am
    The GP wrote:
    wino66 wrote:On the way out, I took this pic of the patio right before they sat a table. It was a cool, drizzly day so not many takers. I would've sat outside if my GF was with me, it's a covered patio and very serene.


    I'm planning on sitting on the patio next visit, if this summer ever settles in!

    wino-

    You'll have to report back and let us know if the seating on the patio qualifies for the Tiniest/most uncomfortable seating in Chicago? I know that I wouldn't be comfortable on the jenga pieces pictured above!

    -The GP


    They look just like the stools at Urban Belly, which I find heavy yet not too bad.
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #24 - July 9th, 2009, 5:40 pm
    Post #24 - July 9th, 2009, 5:40 pm Post #24 - July 9th, 2009, 5:40 pm
    They also look a lot like the stools at avec.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #25 - July 9th, 2009, 7:09 pm
    Post #25 - July 9th, 2009, 7:09 pm Post #25 - July 9th, 2009, 7:09 pm
    Now I'm all hyped to go. When are they going to start doing brunch? Brunch at Lula's-- is 1 of my favorites. Lovely, lovely pancakes.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #26 - July 10th, 2009, 11:28 am
    Post #26 - July 10th, 2009, 11:28 am Post #26 - July 10th, 2009, 11:28 am
    I think it's about time something this ritzy moved past the University Village area. As simply a viewer driving past and riding my bike past every day, I thought it was a bar! I was almost upset at it when I thought of it as just a bar--probably because I somehow i thought it would bring the temptation to convert that street to an entirely alcohol strip. I'm very happy that it's emphasis is on food, I hope the strip instead becomes one of great restaurants.
  • Post #27 - July 12th, 2009, 8:12 am
    Post #27 - July 12th, 2009, 8:12 am Post #27 - July 12th, 2009, 8:12 am
    pairs4life wrote:Now I'm all hyped to go. When are they going to start doing brunch? Brunch at Lula's-- is 1 of my favorites. Lovely, lovely pancakes.


    I asked my server about brunch as well, and he said that around Labor Day was the targeted start date, more or less.
    - Mark

    Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon? Ham? Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.
  • Post #28 - August 5th, 2009, 8:44 pm
    Post #28 - August 5th, 2009, 8:44 pm Post #28 - August 5th, 2009, 8:44 pm
    Finally made my much-anticipated birthday trip to Nightwood earlier this evening and my high expectations were exceeded in every way. After a brief dilemma, deciding whether to sit in the gorgeous dining room or enjoy the perfect weather outside, we opted for the patio. Didn't experience the block stools, but my parents sat on a wood bench and had no complaints. Started off with a round of b-day bubbly (the house prosecco, nice but nothing out of the ordinary) and ordered the chicken liver pate app, which was served with toast, white cucumber, sliced turnip with oregano, and a few droplets of fancy olive oil. Twas delicious - the deep, rich liver taste and fresh crisp veggies were a great pair. Plates were cleared and fresh ones arrived with three buttery, crumbly biscuits with honey butter. Mom and dad both had pasta dishes for entrees. Mom's was the pappardelle with braised rabbit, greens, and sweet peppers. Very minimal and clean dish, letting the perfectly done rabbit and bitter mustard greens season the pasta. Dad's was house-made rigatoni with tomato ragout, black kale and, I believe, shaved pecorino. Nice meaty pasta, a really good and rustic vegetarian dish (an interesting choice for a guy who always gets the pork chop). I had the wood-grilled whole Wisconsin trout, which was seasoned with basil and cracked pepper, accompanied with sweet corn and almonds, atop (again, I believe) rutabaga puree and snap peas. The fish was exceedingly flavorful, really mind-blowingly fresh. The almonds were an inspired addition. Went great with the Tuscan white I was sipping.
    Dessert was ridiculous, and like everything else, deceptively simple. Klug Farm blackberries and cream were one of the best things I've ever eaten, just an absolute tidal wave / orgy of pure ecstasy. We got the cookie plate as well, of which the double chocolate was terrifyingly rich, and the raspberry jam sandwich was very nice as well. The kitchen was nice enough to send out a birthday mint chocolate mousse, which I think almost sent my dad to the hospital.
    Service was sincerely friendly and was happy to humor my dorky parents' questions.
    Looking forward to coming back and sitting at the kitchen bar, and also bringing a group to the wine room.
    Nightwood is a new favorite, for sure.
  • Post #29 - August 6th, 2009, 8:26 am
    Post #29 - August 6th, 2009, 8:26 am Post #29 - August 6th, 2009, 8:26 am
    Calling their breakfast/brunch
    service "Morningwood", would
    be funny. Heh.
  • Post #30 - August 17th, 2009, 11:30 am
    Post #30 - August 17th, 2009, 11:30 am Post #30 - August 17th, 2009, 11:30 am
    Started off dinner last Saturday with a plug of minced trotters, very tasty and despite visible grains, not over-salted. The peaches were a solid sour counterpoint to the fat-flecked meat :

    Image

    As has been noted, it'd be nice if bread was served as a matter of course, rather than by request only, but if you go to Nightwood, by all means request the muffins: they're fantastic, very buttery, light and necessary with some of the richer dishes (like the above).

    In the cellar, there's a cool dining room. Seats a little over 30 and was very inviting on a hot afternoon (we sat in the upstairs dining room; this basement room was reserved for a larger party):

    Image

    The design of this place carries over Lula's eclecticism: there's a castellated structure pictured on the menu, a variety of medieval looking chandeliers, yet retro modern seating in the upstairs dining room and, as Martha Bayne remarked, a kind of cubist look to the patio.
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins

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