It often happens that all of a sudden something becomes all the rage. Everybody talks about it, every newspaper and magazine writes about it. Your friend asks you if you have tried it, your wife complains because you haven't told her sooner about it.
This is what happened with Nightwood, a relatively new restaurant which opened in Chicago's Pilsen. Out of the blue, everybody kept on asking me: have you been to Nightwood? Have you tasted the doughnuts at Nightwood? Have you had brunch at Nightwood?
So we went to have brunch at Nightwood. And it sucked. It sucked so much that I don't think I will ever go there again. Not because the food is disgusting (it is bland and tasteless, not disgusting), but because I HATE over hyped restaurants or bars that have nothing to back that hype.
Well, seriously, I don't know. Parking is relatively easy on a Sunday in the area. This is a good thing, right?
The place is also very nice: they have a nice terrace, and the decor is cool. I think during the summer their patio will really be a very nice place to hang out.
And their menu looks VERY nice. I haven't gone insane: this is not in contrast with what I said about their food. When you read the menu, your mouth will salivate (if you manage to read it, though, since they use a font which is not clear at all): the dishes are very different from the ones you will find in most brunch places in Chicago and they all sound very good. But "sound good" is all they do.
The food and the service.
The food is bland at best. We had a sour cherry doughnut and a bacon doughnut. The sour cherry one was ok, although the dough was too moist, as if it hadn't been cooked properly. The bacon one wasn't particularly tasty either.
The problem is that the doughnuts were the best part of brunch.
I had fried chicken wings on a waffle. The chicken wings were burnt and tasteless. The waffle was cold. My wife had a farro salad with asparagus and mushrooms. The asparagus were raw, as in "hard as a stone". The mushrooms didn't have any taste: you might as well be chewing a pebble and the pleasure would have been the same. The friend who was with us had a smoked trout bagel. She said it was ok.
Tasteless fried chicken wings with waffle
Tasteless farro salad with raw (and as hard as stones) asparagus
Our latte and chai took ten minutes to get to the table. And they were lukewarm (as in "coldish"). We tried to get hold of our waiter to tell him, but his peculiar feature was to disappear during the whole meal, to only come back with the bill.
25$ each for a bad brunch.
A message to the owner: food at Lula Cafe (your other over hyped establishment in Chicago) is tasteless. Food at Nightwood is tasteless. How about cooking something that not only "reads" and "looks" good, but also TASTES good?
Overall score: 2.5 stars out of 5
2119 S Halsted St
(at 21 St)
Chicago, IL, 60608
312 526 3385