chicago eats

A Bountiful Feast

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 tgoandco

 
On a cold winter night, crowds of hipsters swarmed out to the trendy Feast – the eatery and bar that is a Wicker Park staple.  The reason? A new menu and a new management powerhouse team led by Jason Myers has taken over and revamped the eatery to keep it trendy and hip. Myers isn’t new to Chicago. He has been a veteran chef previously over at Deleece Grill and Grass Fed. Being a native from Australia and having spent time at a couple of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Myers came to Chicago and has been serving up some interesting and intoxicating flavors. Teamed with Maura Davis as the new general manager and new mother-goddess of everything alcoholic, things got a major taste overhaul. Davis formerly of Francesca and LM, knows her wines and has an intense knowledge of good reds when it comes to wine.

There is still a lovely patio at Feast, although is a bit chilly to sit out there currently. Instead, cosy up in the bar and checkout the new selection. Much, if not about 90% of the menu is new. It is eclectic and reflects the styles and tastes of the neighborhood. There is something to accommodate most tastes… and I mean that literally. There is a lot of variety on the menu. There are a large selection of appetizers and a nice array of salads. The side items are not ones you would typically find and there are plenty. Sandwiches are plentiful as well as some nice burger options. There are nine entreés to pick under the entrée side of the menu. It is easy to find something that will work for a lighter meal, to mix and match tasting menu or something that is more substantial when one is really hungry. They concentrated on variety but also on flavor. Each item on the menu has had it’s flavored tweaked and dissected so that it is not “ordinary”. It is also not expensive — no budget is going to be broken while having a good meal.










 If you are looking for light fare, they have lots of salad options. Two of the best are the House-smoked Trout Salad and the Grilled Baby Octopus. The Trout salad is large and will not leave you hungry. It has crispy potatoes and comes with lemon vinaigrette. I am not one that can easily make a meal on a salad alone. This one I can and I will feel satisfied as it hits on many taste buds. The same can be said for the Baby Octopus. It comes on a bed of frisee and a chili oregano vinaigrette. This is an appetizer salad so you may want to pair it with one of the flatbreads that change daily. They have a couple vegetarian options, semolina cakes with mushroom ragu and parmesan cheese or the black bean burger. I would not say Feast is heavy on the vegetarian options however those that are there are very good. One of the items on the menu is Buttermilk Biscuits with Carmelized Onions.  These are fun and perfect with a class of wine on a cold winter night. I opted for something a little stronger to start — a Pimms Cup.

Let's Chat about Beverages

As I digress from food for a moment, let me tell you how wonderfully Maura has handled the beverage menu.  First thing – beer flight.  She has four 6 oz. tastings for $12. This includes a few IPA and a variety of ales that are local brewed. By the glass, she has an excellent variety of whites and reds by the glass — not just one or two of each. She realizes the neighborhood has a variety of tastes so the wine menu reflects that. There are sweet and dry in both categories of red and white. There are many things to try by the bottle also. In the cocktail category, she has plethora to pick from. She has not concentrated on just vodka as many places do. She is everything covered. One of my favorites was the Pimms Cup. A classic in the UK, it is tough — OK, almost impossible really — to find a good one this side of the pond. This is excellent and worth a trip to the bar. Much cheaper on a regular basis than airfare to London, this cocktail has mix of ginger beer, muddled orange and mint. It is lovely in the summer but in winter, it hits the spot equally well. She has a manhattan made with Koval Rye. If you like manhattans, you will enjoy them greatly with rye as a refreshing change.  Looking to snuggle up for a light dinner and glass of red? One of her best selections is a Guy Chaumont Pinot Noir from France. No, it is not the most expensive thing under the red wine, it is actually one of the cheapest. It is also one of the most flavorful things you can try. Beautifully dry, it has a peppery finish that stands out and tantalizes the tongue and is perfect paired with cheese.


But it’s winter and you want something warm and filling? Go for it — do the Red Chili Braised Short Ribs. This is very pot roast like in texture and comes with goat cheese white polenta. On first glance, the polenta looks like mashed potatoes, but the taste is better. It holds up to the ribs. They have just the right amount of spice and heat. They are not too spicy but have a flavor that sticks and pairs well with the goat cheese.

There is a feeling with the menu that make one is think they are dining in a more upscale restaurant when looking at the left side selection column. When you look at the right side of the column, one is pleasantly surprised. A final note: the vibe of the place is fun. The patio will be (and has been) a definite hit in the summer. The new menu and beverage options make it complete. It’s a good place to hold up while the winter is still brewing. Hint, hint: This is a meal a guy will love —Valentines Day is around the corner.

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