A Neighborhood Eatery & Bar
2152 N. Damen
Chicago, IL 60647
Sunday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Mon.-Thurs., 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat., 5:30 p.m. – midnight
Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Entrée (large dish) price range: $10-$18.
By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
Story originally appeared in StreetWise
Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods have become quite noteworthy for their diversity of restaurants and boutiques. It’s a great place to shop, eat, take in the art studios and people-watch. There’s a creative spontaneity to the area, and that’s definitely true at The Bristol, a new bistro self-described as a “neighborhood eatery and bar.”
The Bristol is a lively, come as you are gathering place. No reservations are taken, so you may have to wait, but it’s still a good call. There’s an exciting hubbub in the moderately sized dining room. The décor is semi-rustic but done with style. Some of the tables are large and communal; making new friends at these tables is part of the fun.
One look at the menu and we knew it was going to be hard to choose—so many things sounded great. Never fear, our server explained that sharing is welcome. The menu is divided into four sections: bar snacks, salads/sides, medium dishes and large dishes and the cuisine is contemporary American, which means there are a variety of global influences throughout. We picked up primarily a touch of France and Italy in the choice of food selections.
The bar snacks work well as appetizers, but a collection of them would also make for a fun, delicious meal. To start, we tried the Monkey Bread Pull Apart, a small loaf of warm, just baked bread served with dill butter and sea salt. It’s a nice, comforting beginning. The Grilled Flatbread, with bacon and melted sweet onion, was simply delicious, bordering on addictive.
We moved on to the salad course and were pleasantly surprised. The very fresh Heirloom Apple Salad was a perfect blend of sweet and tangy. The Grilled Mackeral Caesar Salad was also very good; the mackerel was a special touch.
Medium dishes offer a variety of flavors in inspired combinations. Pasta lovers will enjoy the rich but not too heavy Ravioli with Ricotta, egg yolk and brown butter. The Grilled Head-On Prawns, with anchovy butter, were perfectly prepared and mouth watering. Those who want a taste of France might try the Roast Bone Marrow, served with red wine shallot jam.
On to the large dishes: We don’t tend to order chicken dishes unless we think they will be something special, and at The Bristol, we weren’t disappointed. The Ballotine of Young Chicken, served with chestnut spatzle and crunchy salad, was wonderful in flavor and texture; a very comforting dish, hearty but certainly not heavy. The Pan Roasted Skate Wing was another clear winner, served with Saor sauce (an Italian sweet-sour sauce) and delicately seasoned root vegetables.
The variety of dishes at The Bristol is joyfully wide and one can easily enjoy a light meal or a full course feast. It’s a great place for a group where some want a light meal and other are “starving.” For a rich indulgence, try an order of duck fat fries, served with a tasty house made ketchup and aioli, for the table. If you’ve still got room, try the desserts; we loved them.
Note: DineWise is a weekly column appearing in StreetWise magazine. Lee Barrie is on the StreetWise