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Peameal bacon “knife and fork” sandwich

Oldies & Goodies

by Selena Fragassi | Photo: Neil Burger | NS magazine | April 2, 2013

Evanston dining has long scaled the great divide—cater to the large student body of Northwestern looking for a place to lounge or whet the palate of a more refined crowd in search of a nearby night out. Thankfully Evanston’s missing link is now Found, Amy Morton’s new “kitchen and social house” that delivers on atmosphere and accessibility.

Stepping inside the downtown restaurant (formerly Gio) is like walking into a traveler’s living room. Traditional dining tables and chairs are replaced by hodgepodge sofas adorned with cowhide throws, coffee tables over exotic rugs and benches from the old Chicago Courthouse. Without purpose, the varied decor could be a hoarder’s delight; but here, everything has found its place and adheres to Morton’s sustainable ethos that rules the menu, too. Cheeses and meats are sourced from farms in Illinois and just across the border, draughts are tapped from local breweries like Two Brothers and Revolution, and the gelato comes courtesy of Chicago’s own Black Dog Gelato. The result is fresh ingredients manipulated into expert dishes that meet the demands of a modern American palate.

Executive Chef Nicole Pederson, formerly of Affinia Hotel’s C-House restaurant and Logan Square’s eclectic Lula Cafe, perfects the small plate that satisfies big appetites—and in some cases bests the entrees. Standouts are the tender lamb meatballs marinating in a ramekin filled with pistachio chimichurri and yogurt sauce, and the grilled baby octopus on a bed of olives and sunchokes that offers a rich combination of textures. Start with the kale and Swiss chard salad peppered with seeds and cranberries; if there’s still room splurge on the smoked bacon and leek flatbread.

Entrees like the wood-oven-roasted pork chop with grilled onion salsa verde are portioned for communal dining, too; just don’t waste your stomach on the creamy polenta with slow-poached egg that comes off like runny grits or the root vegetable stew, which masks its blandness with an overdose of curry.

Found’s cocktail program is similarly rife with homegrown recipes. The Granny S (apple butter bourbon, apple cider syrup, lemon and an apple chip) is filling enough to tide you over during the aggravating hourlong waits (Found doesn’t take reservations) and the housemade milk liqueur is sweet enough to add a fourth option to the slim dessert menu.
A variety of wines and small-batch spirits complement the many courses of the evening, all of which are thoroughly commentated on by the knowledgeable waitstaff or Morton herself, who is a noticeable presence for diners and a proud hostess of her own neighborhood spot.

Thankfully her locavore attitude applied to the restaurant location, too. Found would have been lost in the city’s dining blueprint; in Evanston it’s quickly becoming a treasure of the North Shore.

Found Kitchen & Social House
1631 Chicago Ave.
Evanston, 847.868.8945

Dinner: Tue.-Thu. 4:30-10:30pm, Fri.-Sat. 4:30pm-12:30am, Sun. 4:30-9:30pm
Shared plates: $5-$15, Flatbreads: $8-$10, Knife and fork sandwiches: $9-$13, Entrees: $14-$28,
Desserts: $5-$7

What to Eat
Lamb meatballs, grilled baby octopus, kale and Swiss chard salad, bacon and leek flatbread, chocolate pôt de créme

Morton’s Stake
Hailing from the famous Morton restaurateur lineage, Amy ventured on her own to open Mirador and Blue Room before finding Found.

Mission Accomplished
Citing her background in economic anthropology and housing issues of the homeless, Morton has extended her social mission by working with the Inspiration Café and Connections for the Homeless to hire staff.

Trash to Treasure
The decor is mostly salvaged, made up of some items from the Pump Room, the former Chicago Courthouse and a Women’s club in Muncie, Ind.