Look closely at the bottles behind the bar in this striking bi-level venue. Among the Pinots and Cabs is an old bottle that once held Borden’s condensed milk. “When the plumbers were digging underneath the building, they found it buried in the sand,” says Nicole Pederson. The artifact is a nod to an earlier incarnation of the site, which is located in an alley and served as a horse stable for milk delivery buggies a century ago.
Pederson and Amy Morton, partners in Evanston’s ever-popular Found Kitchen, imbue their new “modern meaterie” with warmth and goofy personality. Here, living moss on the wall; there, a photo of an alpaca named George. By the time customers get around to eating, they have already fallen for the place. And Pederson packs the menu with crowd pleasers, such as caviar sandwiches, caramelized calf’s liver, and pan-seared pork chops with sweet potato purée and hazelnut relish. The rolling-cart shtick gets overplayed, but it’s fun to watch a whole roasted branzino with lemon-shallot beurre blanc—the restaurant’s greatest triumph—get deboned tableside.
When Found opened in 2012, Morton’s children begged Pederson to put macaroni and cheese on the menu. At the Barn, it’s right after the roasted trumpet mushrooms and sautéed green beans. How can you not like this spot?
Insider Tip:If the reliable 16-ounce rib eye with red wine demi-glace isn’t enough for you, the kitchen keeps a secret stash of 32-ounce porterhouses.