1. Goosefoot

  • 2656 W. Lawrence Ave.
    Lincoln Square
  • Contemporary
  • $$$$
  • Chef: Chris Nugent

Next may have gotten the headlines, but Goosefoot is the superior restaurant. It's more inclusive, more fun, less of a pain in the ass: Just call, take a couple bottles of wine, and enjoy Nugent's dazzling creations–no ticket necessary.

And while Next's offerings have been brilliant at times, Goosefoot's have been nothing but brilliant. Nugent's 8- and 12-course prix fixe menus, a savvy synthesis of classical French and contemporary cool, overflow with ideas, such as an astounding bowl of butter-poached lobster, maitake mushrooms, and agnolotti stuffed with Hubbard squash afloat in a broth of lobster, coconut, and Madras curry and emboldened by the softest kiss of licorice root foam. The same nuance and polish seep into everything: a stunning cheese course, the charming (if tightly wound) staff, an amuse-bouche that looks like it came from the Art Institute's Thorne Miniature Rooms.

The space is graceful in a forgettable sort of way–fine art sculptures, gold-toned banquettes–but no one will forget the food anytime soon. And Goosefoot zigs while the world around it zags: With every other restaurateur unveiling large, loud, cocktaily spots at hip addresses, Nugent launched a quiet 34-seat BYO on a stretch of Lawrence Avenue that would be generous to call Lincoln Square. We went back and forth on the Goosefoot-versus-Next debate, but in the end we picked Goosefoot because it feels like an old-school Restaurant with a capital R, crafted and run with love.

Next Next »

Below: Assorted herbs, greens, and heirloom carrots on carrot purée at Goosefoot.

Goosefoot carrot puree

Price symbols indicate the typical cost of a meal (without tax, tip, or alcohol) per person.
¢ … under $20 | $ … $20 to $29 | $$ … $30 to $39 | $$$ … $40 to $49 | $$$$ … $50-plus