Photograph: Hugh Galdones/Courtesy of Nightwood
Nightwood (2119 S. Halsted St., 312-526-3385). American.
$$$ ($40–$49 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
Determined to be unpredictable, Jason Vincent alters his menu at an enviable clip, tweaking preparations and swapping in new dishes on a near-daily basis.
The results, however, can be strikingly uneven. You might thrill to crispy pork belly soaked in Concord grape juice or Japanese mackerel fried in foie fat, or you might be completely frustrated gnawing at duck legs and foraging through a messy mélange of seasonal vegetables.
The prissy and aloof service casts a pall over an already dimly lit dining experience. But brilliant wine options and a sometimes inspired dessert list—especially a butter cake for the ages—bring you right back into the fold.
Dishes We Liked: Chilled rabbit and Gulf of Maine lobster ($15), whole Japanese mackerel fried in foie fat ($15), pork belly with cauliflower and caper berries ($26), wood-grilled Massachusetts scallops with bacon and autumn peas ($24), almond butter cake with cinnamon brittle ice cream ($13)