Fellow foodie friend Rich took me, Arlene and Emily out for dinner tonight. He has been raving about West Town Tavern the past few times I have been in Chicago, so this seemed like the right time to check it out. Since I’ve gone vegetarian, it can sometimes be a challenge to find veggie-friendly meals in meat-friendly establishments. I got a great vibe upon entering the restaurant. Outfitted in celadon toned curtains offsetting the brick walls and pale wooden accents, the lighting gives it a breezy, upscale feel. Chef Susan Goss walks around the front-of-house talking with regulars (like Rich), when not in the kitchen. Her inspiration breeds down-home comfort food with gourmet nuances.
We ordered several plates split amongst the table, such as the Napoleon of phyllo with housemade mozzarella, herbed goat cheese, tomato vinaigrette, augmented by cherry tomatoes and grilled asparagus. Rich, tangy, creamy and crunchy- yum. The other plate of goodness for our starter consisted of the WTT potato chips, made with rosemary, balsamic syrup, white truffle oil and parmesan. Crisp without being greasy, the combination of herbs, cheese and balsamic gave a satisfying flavor.
Main courses consisted of two seafood dishes and my salad. Rich always orders the mussels, skillet-roasted with bay leaf, sweet garlic and chile peppers. He says that part of it’s because of the sauce. The scallops come on a bed of mushroom-leek risotto. My salad combined arugula with toasted hazelnuts and citrus wedges in a honey-citrus vinaigrette, which was a perfect light meal.
Even the bread at WTT is good, especially since it’s served with a butter composed of lemon, tarragon, sea salt and other herbs. The taste is not overly herby but makes a good accompaniment to the bread.
Dessert is one of the main reasons people come to WTT, so we had high hopes. The lemon chess pie served on a raspberry coulis and whipped cream. The sprig of fresh mint as garnish gave this light dessert a top note that improved the already delectable flavor. We also shared a slice of their Devil’s Food Cake with fudge frosting and housemade chocolate mint ice cream. This was good, but no comparison to the chess pie.
We finished the evening deep in conversation and laughing about the cultural faux pas all of us have made at some point. Chef Susan is a huge fan of tea and this inspired further dialogue. This is the kind of restaurant I would want to continue suggesting to friends for its food, ambience and family-owned atmosphere.
GROUPS: small groups or one-on-one