Trenchermen is a strange and wonderful hybrid kind of restaurant. The location is completely misleading as it is tucked into the six corners of Damen/Milwaukee/North Ave. in Bucktown/Wicker Park. But don’t hold that against this place. Once you step down into the cozy, wood-beamed bar and enter the fatigued-oriental-rug-clad dining room, you will forget all about neighbors Flash Taco and Starbucks.
Not to go totally overboard on the scene, but I did melt nicely into one of the big, leather booths with a “Baby Mama” cocktail in hand, and I could have spent hours and hours if not days sampling from the hot, cold, spicy and crunchy menu.
What you will find is a lot of texture and a playful take on old staples, as well as new ones.
Take, for example, an heirloom tomato salad: warm, sweet, cooked tomatoes (skin off) anchored this dish, followed by a layer of sweet and colorful heirlooms, topped with a balsamic vinegar savory ice cream scoop that melted nicely over the few minutes it lasted into a delicious dressing at room temp.
The warm and cold mixed with sweet, salty vinegar umami really was genius.
But it didn’t end there.
The menu is spotted with small plates as well as larger, entree-style dishes, making it an OK choice for a shared plates experience or an every-man-for-himself one.
Expect to find crunch everywhere: Garlic crisps, tater tots flecked with dill pickle pieces, toasted pistachios and encrusted fresh fish were a few applications. And everything came out as art on the plate.
But if you don’t eat a single bite at Trenchermen (yes, it’s good for girls too, although the decor does say more to old boys than a ladies’ night on the town), go for the cocktails. They were good enough to eat, and don’t require a reservation.
2039 W. North Ave. / Bucktown / Chicago