5/23/2013 11:53:00 AM

First Look: Put Everything on a Biscuit at Endgrain

Shaved vegetable salad with black garlic and delicate greens; tender fried chicken with a sweet stickiness from honey, crispy crust and tender interior; pork belly, a fried egg and aged cheddar - these, all placed on biscuits, are a small portion of the all-day menu at the soon-to-open Endgrain.

We first heard about Endgrain last year, and since then it has been waiting for permits. Meanwhile, co-owner and chef Enoch Simpson perfected a menu of globally inspired comfort food while his brother, Caleb, assembled the rustic space featuring pieces of end grain wood. Tucked into a quiet corner of Roscoe Village, just steps away from the Addison Brown Line stop, the 40-seat restaurant has all the makings of a neighborhood gem. The wood bar takes up most of the east wall, while two-top tables line the west wall. In the back, a taxidermy boar protects a wood wall that looks like something out of a carpenter’s workshop. More stuffed animals overlook the bar.
The small space wears a lot of hats. In the morning, the patchwork bar will offer an array of “Enoch’s Doughnuts.” These are the same doughnuts that shot the chef to fame in 2010 while he was working at Nightwood. The bar will also serve La Colombe coffee and act as a grab-and-go spot for locals running to the train. Doughnuts will be served from 7 AM until they run out, and include flavors such as bacon butterscotch, Nutella milkstout and bourbon vanilla. Once the commuter rush fades, the restaurant turns into an all-day dining destination, with a menu that includes those irresistible biscuit sandwiches as well as salads and hand pies.

At dinner, Endgrain sheds the corner cafe vibe to become a refined restaurant. Ten beers on tap and a select wine list accompany the dinner menu, which is divided into appetizers and entrees. Simpson’s commitment to local ingredients shines at night - housemade pasta is served with seasonal produce, fresh ricotta and egg yolk, and lake trout sits on olive oil lemon polenta with sunchokes and a sunflower seed crumble. Do not skip dessert; a rich dark chocolate pudding tart is served with buttermilk caramel and roasted white chocolate chunk ice cream.

Simpson’s food can be classified as traditional American, but he finds staples, such as burgers, boring. “The most exciting thing, for me, about a hamburger is that bite with a pickle,” Simpson said. This is why every bite of Simpson’s food has a punch of flavor - from kimchi in a braised pork pie to honey mustard slathered on fried chicken. Try all of the dishes when Engrain opens on June 4. In the meantime, check out photos of the gorgeous food.

1851 W. Addison St.; 773-687-8191

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