Saturday, October 26, 2013

Found Kitchen and Social House

I don't often get to Evanston because while it is right next to Chicago, there is no really direct route for me to get there and it takes well over an hour to get there.  When I do travel to Evanston however, I do like to try out some of their restaurants.  While the restaurant scene in Evanston is smaller than that of Chicago, of course, it is active and does have some pretty notable restaurants and chefs.  I had heard a lot of buzz about the restaurant Found Kitchen and Social House so that's where I decided to go.  Found does have a very good pedigree.  The restauranteur, Amy Morton is the daughter of steakhouse king, Arnie Morton, and worked for many years at his namesake steakhouse before going off on her own.  She is also the sister of David Morton of DMK fame.  The chef at Found is Nicole Pederson, formerly of C-House and Lula Cafe.  With all of this history behind it, I was excited to try it out.  Located in downtown Evanston, Found takes no reservations so in order to avoid the line out the door that happens frequently at peak times, some planning is necessary.  I was going to be in Evanston relatively early so I was hoping to get there early to avoid the crowd.  I got to the restaurant a little after 5 pm on a Sunday and while many of the tables were already seated, there was still space at the bar so that's where I went.  The space has a stripped down, partially-finished look with antique brick walls and an unfinished ceiling over the dining area.  The bar has a large chalkboard overhead with inspirational quotes from a wide variety of famous people such as Jack Kerouac, WC Fields, Voltaire, and the Dalai Lama.  The furniture in the restaurant describes the restaurant as it was all found and are all mismatched.  With a variety of armchairs and couches (as well as the standard restaurant chairs) used for seating and side and coffee tables used for dining.  The candlesticks that were ubiquitous throughout the restaurant appeared very well used.  All of them had a large amount of melted wax cascading down from the candle stand.  While all of the furniture seemed to be mismatched and well used.  The silverware and table service seemed to be fairly uniform.  The menu is vegetable based and seasonal (although not necessarily vegetarian) and is divided into small plates, sandwiches, flatbreads, and a few large plates.  The small plates could act as an appetizer or as several small plates to compose a meal.  I decided to go the several small plates route (or in my case, 2) and started with a Quinoa and Poached Chicken Salad with Fennel, Feta, Arugula, and Olives.  This had a very fresh taste and texture with a nice crunch to the quinoa and a crispness to the arugula and fennel.  The feta tied the chicken to the arugula and fennel and with its tartness tied everything to the vinaigrette.  The quinoa had a nice crunch but it also had a nutty flavor that added to the dish the the olives which were finely sliced, provided a subtle and slightly bitter finish.

My other small plate was a Walleye and Goat Sausage Stew with Kale, Baby Turnips, and Cream.  To me, it sounded like kind of an odd combination (the walleye and goat sausage) but it really worked.  A lot of fresh fish that is cooked well has a relatively neutral flavor as was the case here so it didn't provide a lot of flavor as such but there was enough that it provided a significant textural element.  The goat sausage was skinless and was well spiced in addition to the gaminess that comes with goat.  The kale was wilted so while it didn't have the crispness that freshly picked kale, it did provide a nice vegetable flavor that tied well with the root vegetable flavor of the very tender baby turnips.  The cream added to everything and provided a nice depth of flavor for the finish.

For my dessert, I went a little decadent and got a Cinnamon Pound Cake with Butterscotch, Roasted Apples, and Butter Pecan Ice Cream.  It was sweet, a little spicy, hearty, and very definitely a fall dessert that was a good finish to what was otherwise a rather light dinner.  I could have gone light for dessert as well, but the combination of flavors looked too good to pass up and I really like butterscotch.

There is a very good reason that Found is a hit, even in a city with several other good restaurants.  The space is very friendly and homey and the food is very good.  While a good pedigree does not guarantee a good restaurant, in Amy Morton and Nicole Pederson's case they do well by their pedigree and have created a very good restaurant.

No comments:

Post a Comment