Saturday, July 9, 2011

Birchwood Kitchen


It's a lot harder to compare sandwich shops than it is burger joints. While you might find similarities between one sandwich shop and another, there is a lot more room to carve out a niche in the sandwich shop realm because of the variability of the ingredients. While there might be a wide variety of things to put on the hamburger, in the end, a hamburger is a sandwich with a piece of ground meat between two buns. A sandwich, on the other hand, has the two pieces of bread with just about anything between them. While I have talked about several sandwich shops, they exist in their own realm because they all do things differently. Birchwood Kitchen is another sandwich shop in Wicker Park that I visited recently that really can't be compared (as far as food is concerned) to any other sandwich shop. Their concept is to offer a menu of local, seasonal, and sustainable products. Having said that, there will frequently be some sort of cheese, some sort of ham or other cured meat, and a variety of baked goods. It is located in a small space with the counter and kitchen on one side of the room and a row of about 10 tables on the other side. In the summer, they also have a nice fenced in patio area in the back and as it was a nice day, that's where I dined.

I was thinking, before I came, of getting a proscuitto sandwich because it is really good but when I saw the goat cheese and beet sandwich, that's the way that I had to go. The sandwich was served on a baguette and also had arugula and walnut pesto and while it was really good, I would have preferred the beets sliced a little thicker. The sandwich also came with some pickled green beans which were nice and tart and crunchy and some house made potato chips garnished with chives. In addition, I had a chickpea salad with celery, red pepper, radishes, cilantro, and a vinaigrette. It was also very good.

The menu is small and the place is small, but the people are very friendly and the food is fresh and very good. Because of the seasonality of the shop, it is not a place that you can find something you like and continually come back to it. It does allow you though, to stretch your boundaries and potentially enjoy something new.

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