Cary Michael (left) and Howard Natinsky at Branch 27


Everyone loves the fact that Branch 27 resides in a former West Town library, partially because the jokes are so easy. (“Will the waiters shush you if you make too much noise?” a friend asked.) What interests us about the new 125-seat spot is the impressive roster of talent behind it. Cary Michael (Rockit), Howard Natinsky (Fat Cat), and Bob Zrenner (X/O, North Pond) have combined forces to create a stylish-yet-rustic restaurant that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it promises: a smart neighborhood spot. “We’re calling it an American bistro,” says Michael. “Flat-iron steaks, mussels, seafood, roast chicken. Good, solid bistro fare.” 1371 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-850-2700.


Photograph: Anna Knott