Thanks to Nancy Silver (Blackbird) and Chris Pappas (Winchester), the lights are back on at 2211 West North Avenue, which formerly housed Wicker Park’s beloved Birchwood Kitchen. And the new European-style café with a Mediterranean-inflected menu is making a strong first impression.
There’s shakshuka ($11), soft-cooked eggs swimming with greens in warmly spiced tomato sauce with grilled bread for sopping, and an al dente chickpea salad tossed with roasted fennel and cucumbers in garlicky tahini sauce ($6.50). Silver’s terrific pastries, such as a barely sweet pistachio financier ($2.75) and a banana-cardamom tea cake ($3.75), might just be coffee’s perfect mates.
You’ll also taste what could become Chicago’s next favorite condiment: schug. This Middle Eastern hot sauce perfumes the squeaky, salty seared Halloumi sandwich ($11) and the creamy scrambled egg biscuit ($5) with cardamom, garlic, cilantro, and fresh chilies. To paraphrase the Frank’s RedHot lady, we’d put that [bleep] on anything. 2211 W. North Ave., 773-360-8757