The exterior of Wolcott's
Wolcott’s, a long-expected corner tap in Ravenswood, opened Thursday.

As a newcomer to Ravenswood, I eyed the crisp brown awning at the corner of Wolcott and Montrose all last summer and fall, wondering what the story might be behind those papered windows and the city-issued notices posted on the door—and why Wolcott’s, the project in progress inside, had come to a standstill.

Then, while chatting up a chef I’d just met at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, I stumbled upon a scoop: “I’m working on the menu for Wolcott’s. It’s opening next week,” said Kurt Guzowski, who was most recently in the kitchen at Landmark.

And indeed, Wolcott’s opened last night. Turns out the holdup had something to do with city permits (wouldn’t you know). Now, after more than a year of waiting, the neighborhood has a new spot for casual drinking, eating, and sports watching, with a few twists thrown in:

1. I’d expected to stroll down the street and immediately settle into one of many available bar stools. After all, who else but me would know about this under-the-radar opening on the first night? Um, no. Thursday meant a full-fledged party with a red carpet outside the door, balloons tied everywhere inside, and a wait for a table.

2. “Look, they have Victoria on tap!” said The Creative Director as we walked in the door. Score one for Wolcott’s.

3. Specialty cocktails are reasonably priced (most around $7 or $8) and include something called Take the Cake, a cheesecake martini. Graham-cracker-crusted rim? That’s a first.

4. Everything on the food menu is less than $10 except the burger, which, at $11, is the priciest item you can order. Enjoyed by The Chaser: vegetable stew with cheddar gnocchi ($7), one of several veggie-friendly dishes catering to preferences voiced by the neighborhood.

5. Even with the überpopular Fountainhead a block away, last night’s food and friendly, attentive vibe makes me think Wolcott’s has a shot (although the beer selection is more run-of-the-mill, minus the Victoria). Not bad for a longtime question mark.