Nightwood is, without question, completely and totally splurge worthy. Located a car ride away in East Pilsen, Nightwood radiates a warmth easily recognizable, and appreciated, in the harsh chill of Chicago winter. The handwritten menu changes daily, depending on the availability of local ingredients and the innovative whims of the chef, and on the night we were at Nightwood, there was a delectable array of pork, chicken, and arctic char.
Dinner began with two small biscuits, warm, flaky, and buttery; an exquisite prelude to the meal that would follow. For our appetizer, we ordered what can best be described as a study in egg: Michigan char roe hidden within a scrambled egg shaped like an Asian bao. The scrambled egg was creamy with hints of sweetness, and the nibbles of roe brought bursts of saltiness to each bite. Buttery brioche toast points added even more sweet and salty to the appetizer.
For dinner, I had the arctic char (changed from the cod originally on the menu) served with razor clams, a large whole prawn, and bay scallops. It sat in a light garlic butter sauce infused with flavors of the fish, and there was some sort of toasted nut or seed – I’m fairly certain not the pumpkin seed described on the menu – that exploded with earthy flavor. The only shortcoming of this otherwise exceptional dish was that the razor clams were gritty, something more rinsing time would have avoided.
My husband had the woodsy spit-roasted pork loin served with “lots of delicious fat,” chewy faro, and a salty anchovy dressing. On the side were miniature pickles, crunchy and vinegary, and perfectly fried onion rings, crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.
We had a hard time choosing between the Mast brothers brownie and sticky toffee pudding for dessert, but because I have a chocolate problem (and an incredibly sweet and accommodating husband), we went brownie. It was a trio of chocolatey goodness, each component balancing and enhancing the other: the thick and dense brownie, the scoop of malt chocolate ice cream on top of the brownie, and the rich, warm fudge served along side.
We’ll definitely be back at Nightwood again, next time perhaps for brunch, which I have heard called the best in the city. In Chicago, a city known for its incredible brunch spots, that’s quite the claim. One that I need to research myself!
Try Nightwood at 2119 S. Halsted St.
Filed under: Splurges