"Sometimes you just want french fries with your spaghetti," Mike Sula admits. Hence the popularity (and ubiquity) of we've-got-you-covered small-plates spots such as Boystown's Wood, which brings a changing seasonal menu of flatbreads and pasta, charcuterie and cheese plates, and wood-grilled meats to the gayborhood. Chef Ashlee Aubin and his crew show a particular affinity for house-made pastas and for frying, whether it be stuffed squash blossoms or late-season soft-shell crab. But Aubin's ace in the hole is the double-fried Belgian frites, available from Backwoods, the restaurant's late-night take-out window, or anytime (though they're not on the menu). "At $5 an order," says Sula, "they're the best bite in the house."
In Key Ingredient Michael Shrader of Urban Union, challenged with curly parsley, puts the often reviled herb to good use in a gremolata he served with roasted red snapper. Here its "herbaceousness and grassiness" work well, he says, especially when the dish is paired with a fruity Tuscan Gavi. Next up is John Manion of the forthcoming La Sirena Clandestina, working with smelt, "an underappreciated fish," according to Shrader.