Opening a bar, like buying a house, is all about location, location, location. And The Ledge Bar & Grill (1745 W. North Ave.; 773-252-6053), just down the block from Wicker Park’s Six Corners, has that—and the inevitable neighborhood foot traffic—going for it. Also as with real estate, it helps if the prime spot (here, the former Parlor location) comes with nice furnishings. The Ledge doesn’t disappoint in this arena, either. The plush, if a little obvious, interior matches slick dark wood with slick tile and slick pendant lighting.
But what makes a house a home is soul, and The Ledge just ain’t got it. This place is small—in more ways than one. The bar itself is an eight-seat half-moon that doesn’t leave much space for drink angling, and what’s behind it seems half-baked. There’s one beer fridge, which was a skimpy half-full on my visit, and the sky-high shelves behind the bar were half-full as well, which made it seem as though I had gotten to the party just before the keg ran out.
The four drafts on offer cater to the indecisive. Want a low-cal option? Miller Lite. Cheap, ironic hipster beer? $2 High Life. Classy and cool? Stella. Local and proud? Goose Island’s Matilda. The menu follows suit: a short list of salads, burgers, sandwiches, wings, and hummus. The fact that it’s “cheap” is supposed to be a selling point, but $4.95 tots don’t strike me as rock bottom. I was hoping the back patio would lend The Ledge a hint of what I was looking for: something—anything—special. A peek revealed a pleasant but wholly unsurprising fenced-in area with a handful of metal tables.
Some of this can be fixed. The shelves can be stocked. The menu can be tweaked. The patio can be spruced up. But when it comes to filling the seats, I’ll be at Small Bar instead, where I can pair my Matilda with a $3 basket of tots.