I’m usually not one to visit a newly opened restaurant. I like to give a place the chance to settle in, to work out the kinks. But a last minute plan change left me with a birthday girl in search of a celebration worthy restaurant, so off we went to the Store Front Company on its second official day of business.
To be honest, I can’t recall what was in the Store Front space previously, but it is now done up all in white with black for an open, arty and clean feel. Tables were adorned with tiny vases of small yellow flowers, the only color in the décor, and giant, abstract, black and white paintings decorate the walls. The dining area is open and airy and a long bar runs along one whole side of the restaurant. Now, if you’ve read Foody Chronicles, you know that I’m a sucker for a good seat at the bar, but for a birthday celebration, we booked a table, a good choice since in this instance the bar would have been a lonely place.
The Gist of It
Our black clad waitress welcomed us to our table immediately and explained the Store Front Company’s menu. The restaurant describes its food as farm modern and its seasonal menu is divided into shares, cheeses, firsts and seconds. Though the menu is not extensive, there are only a half dozen or so dishes in each category, and each dish has a variety of interesting components to it, like rosehip catsup or pine nut brittle, giving each selection a complex flavor profile.
Okay, I’ll Share If I Have To
You guessed it; the shares are plates of bite sized morsels that are meant to be shared. The share plates provide just a bite or two for each person, but the offerings are packed with flavor. We ordered the quinoa fries and the foie gras bombe, the quinoa fries because for the life of me I could not envision how you would make a fry out of a tiny grain of quinoa. And the foie gras bombe because we couldn’t resist something called a foie gras bombe.
The appealingly green quinoa fries were warm and soft on the inside, lightly crunch on the outside, and served with a Madeira granite for a great combination of crispy and soft, hot and cold. The bombe turned out to be a half sphere of foie gras seated on a disk of brioche with sweet and tangy pickled peaches and anise hyssop stuck in the middle to cut the richness of the foie gras. Bite sized bliss.
Getting to First
We moved on to the firsts which were about the size of an appetizer and selected carrots with warm house ricotta, pine nut brittle and baby kale; pork cheek hash with a six hour egg, rosehip catsup and cracklings; and cassoulet bisque with duck confit and preserved tomato jam. Yes, I said six hour egg. Did that get your attention? It got ours. The egg is cooked at a low temperature for six whole hours and comes out soft and creamy. Combine that with the hash and you get a rich, flavorful dish. Though the egg was the highlight of our firsts, the carrots would not be ignored. The orange and burgundy colored carrots were visually impressive and delicious.
On Second Thought
This brings us to the seconds, and where I’ll take a detour into service. The Store Front Company presents itself as a high end restaurant and delivers on that in most respects but misses the mark on service. Dishes were cleared too soon, courses went missing, and there was an overall lack of consistency in the service. The place serves beautiful food and offers and elegant ambiance, but needs to hire some staff that can bring the same level of quality to the service. Fortunately, 2 out of 3 aren’t bad and our seconds were great.
Just listen to the list of Seconds we ordered, they’re making my mouth water as I think of them. Cauliflower Agnolotti with hedgehog mushrooms, sherry cream, anise and ancient (yes, ancient) gouda was petite but packed a lot of flavor. Monk fish with short rib fried rice, tamago, scallion and pomegranate glaze was an excellent choice for those who like a little meat with their fish. And the Duck Dr. Joe Jurgielewicz Farm which was a seared breast, confit leg, Parisian gnocchi, blackberries and escarole and was worth the wait. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Everything was indeed wonderful and it was beautifully presented, just not all at the same time.
Should I Stay (Home) or Should I Go
Give this Bucktown hot spot a try. With its stylish black and white décor, the Store Front Company Restaurant is a great choice for a special occasion or a romantic dinner. The menu is interesting, flavors are rich and complex, and the kitchen gets an A for presentation, but the portions are small. I am hopeful that given a little time the management will improve the service so that it matches the rest of the experience.
Their unlikely Parsnip Cake is on my mind, so I’ll be back for a seat at their bar.
The Store Front Company is located at 1941 W. North Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.