5 To Feast: Eat & Drink Your Way Through Lincoln Square
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By Audarshia Townsend
Over the last several years, Lincoln Square’s garnered a pretty dedicated foodie following for its commitment to unique eats. You’ll find two Michelin-star recipients near one of the city’s most celebrated cocktail lounges as well as a place to tango.
There’s also newcomer The Warbler, which has quickly established itself as the perfect neighborhood eatery. Owned by the same folks behind Gather restaurant, The Warbler is next door to its predecessor. Executive chef/partner Ken Carter, who also oversees Gather’s menu, offers a wide range of options and everything highlights high-quality ingredients.
Many dishes are shareable, including Korean-style chicken wings, baked mussels, and a rotating selection of seasonal flatbreads like curry with roasted mushrooms and ricotta and Italian sausage with garlic soubise. What is particularly impressive is The Warbler’s supper club-style menu. For $25 per person, diners may customize a family meal. That includes two appetizers or salads, two entrées and two vegetables. It’s available 4:30-6pm during the week, and children eat free.
Four More to Devour
The Lincoln Square restaurant is a big attraction in the neighborhood because it offers live music, dancing and tango dance lessons. It's a great addition to an area that's more popular for casual eateries and brunch options. You'll find classic Latin dishes on the menu such as empanadas, paella and ceviche, plus steakhouse favorites. All beef is locally raised, highest quality prime or black angus, hand cut and grilled gaucho-style on an Argentine parrilla, served with homemade chimichurri, malbec sauce and hand-cut fried potatoes.
Expect rustic and well-sourced out ingredients, including those that have been foraged by chef/owner Iliana Regan herself, at this quirky little restaurant on Western Avenue. Elizabeth, named in honor of Regan’s sister, has won numerous high-profile awards and accolades, most notably a Michelin one star (2014-2018) and Food and Wine “best new chef” honors. Not too far away is Regan’s more casual concept, Kitsune. It merges Midwestern fare with home-style Japanese cuisine with dishes like house-made ramp ramen noodles with shio mushroom broth and crudite; grilled octopus ramen with miso broth, shoyu tomago, black garlic chili, leek ash noodle; and fried rice for two with house-made kimchi spam, kimchi, pineapple and fried egg. Brunch includes some of the dinner offerings, plus options like a raspberry jelly donut with five-spice cured foie gras and a sesame biscuit with shio koji buttermilk fried chicken.
A former chef at Palmer House Hilton, Darnell Reed modernizes his great-grandmother's original recipes. That includes Mississippi crispy catfish tacos of corn tortilla, cayenne remoulade and Carolina slaw; hot tamales of Slagel braised short rib, chili, Anson Mills masa and house tamale spice; and buttermilk fried chicken. Everything’s cooked to order and delivered to guests' tables. Other menu highlights include chicken gumbo, shrimp and grits, and sweet potato pie topped with bourbon caramel and toasted marshmallow fluff.
Award-winning beverage director Benjamin Schiller—who just happens to live in Lincoln Square—opened the sort of neighborhood bar he'd enjoy: one offering an inviting vibe, good music selections and most important, great cocktails. While the drink lists provide everything from low-end to high-end, the bulk of the beverage program is reserved for the craft cocktail program, which features whimsical creations by Schiller. Special accents like colorful ice cubes and unique glassware add pizzazz to the liquid delights.
See previous columns by Audarshia Townsend right here.