Everyone at City Mouse is smiling: the tipsy tech bros huddled around the cozy patio’s fire pits, the date-night couples slathering each other’s cornbread with Parmesan butter in the expansive dining room, the travelers juggling craft beers and iPhones in the adjacent hotel lobby. Even the eccentric servers can’t hide their enthusiasm, rhapsodizing about the creative food coming out of the kitchen. And why shouldn’t they? City Mouse’s partners, Jason Vincent and Ben Lustbader, have bottled the same elusive lighting that flashes at their beloved Giant in Logan Square. Their chef here, Pat Sheerin (Trenchermen), produces similarly goofy but satisfying dishes, such as fried cheddar balls topped with caramel and caviar. And you’ve got to love the charmingly indefinable menu, which scores with everything from smoky grilled Indian-style flatbread with roasted sesame eggplant and fresh dates to spaghetti with bacon and breadcrumbs. Each time, the outcome is the same: a delightfully off-kilter sensibility that revels in both the highbrow and the low.
Don’t miss:The bass ($26), inspired—whimsy alert!—by a baked potato and topped with bacon and sour cream.