Hours: Dinner: Monday-Saturday
Open late: Monday-Saturday till 11
Pilsen restaurant from Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds of Lula Cafe.
It's a testament to the Lula talent trust of Jason Hammel, Amalea Tshilds, and opening chef Jason Vincent, in tandem with designer Kevin Heisner, that Nightwood is a lot more than just Lula south. Heisner's sleek design, simultaneously spare and luxe, sets the tone, from the clean cubism of the outdoor patio to the surprisingly comfortable modern squiggles of the chairs. The main dining room is both warm and airy, its dark walnut and iron tones set off by light-colored ceiling beams and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. Behind it, a long counter runs the length of the open kitchen, where Vincent's kitchen crew, clad in casual gray T-shirts, tends the wood-fired grill that anchors his ever-changing menu. The simple yet sophisticated seasonal food mirrors the elegant surroundings. I went with a party of five, so we managed to eat our way through half of that night's handwritten list. Some standouts included delicate grilled Wisconsin trout, half a juicy roast chicken complemented by peppery mustard greens, devastating pork belly, and a duck potpie whose rich flavors were teased out with a restrained, confident hand. There's a roster of creative house cocktails and craft beers, though Pabst Blue Ribbon ("Wisconsin, lager" also makes the cut. The extensive wine list is weighted toward sustainable and/or biodynamic small producers and, like the menu and the restaurant design, demonstrates an abundance of taste, consideration, and savvy planning.
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