THE SHTICK: Cozy, crunchy café meets indie music venue…in Wrigleyville, of all places.
THE VIBE: Similarly to when you arrive at the spa, entering this spot on a blustery morning elicits an instantaneous “Ahhhh….” On the weekday of our visit, the scene was totally chill. It’s a spacious, two-room affair (the front houses a handsome bar and the back is where the small stage resides) with exposed brick walls and blonde wood tables. The sunny front room, complete with fireplace, felt just right as the snow swirled outside. 9 out of 10
THE FOOD: Local/sustainable/organic/yadayada was the M.O. here before that became the case, oh, everywhere: Folks on special diets or those still clinging to New Year’s resolutions are catered to. Vegan chilaquiles, a scramble of faux chorizo, smoked tofu, chunks of corn tortilla, vegan cheese, and salsa, sports a bit of grease, and doesn’t taste especially healthy—a high compliment in this scenario. Unfortunately, a mountain of tepid, dry potatoes left much to be desired.
Continuing the semi-clean eating streak, we also tried the housemade granola, which gets blended with toasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries, and cardamon-infused yogurt and topped with bright citrus segments. For a dish with a track record of being an under-delivering afterthought, this one killed it, both visually and taste-wise. 7 out of 10
THE DRINKS: All that virtuous food needed to be counteracted, and we surrendered to the allure of the Naughty Cocoa—one tempting offering among a handful of boozy coffee drinks. We were told this was served in a bowl, and had no idea what that meant. Well, it means to expect a cereal bowl-sized helping of Peppermint Schnapps-spiked hot chocolate and a buzz. Not sure who could ever finish something so gigantic or so sweet. 5 out of 10
THE SERVICE: No qualms whatsoever. We were catered to without being stalked, and even given a regular latte when our server noticed the cocoa monstrosity wasn’t exactly a hit. 9 out of 10
OVERALL: A respite from the Wrigleyville mayhem, no doubt, and a destination-worthy spot for vegans, families, and granola fans. You’ll pay a premium for the local/sustainable/organic/yadayada, but you’ll leave satisfied. 7.5 out of 10
Uncommon Ground, 3800 N. Clark St., Lake View