With a nod to Aaron D, it seems that the relatively new Square Kitchen (in Lincoln Sq., corner of Lincoln and Wilson) is affiliated with the Daily Bar & Grill, right across the street. What I also didn't know is that this same restaurant group owns the Riverview Tavern, the Southport Lanes, the Corner Pocket, the Lucky Strike (two locations), and the Firehouse Grill in Evanston.
The managing partner and executive chef at Square Kitchen is Lisa Schmidt, who trained at Kendall for 4 years. Before Square Kitchen, she was the chef at the Hudson Club (which was also owned by the group), and before that she worked at Gordon's. Her credentials are best presented however through her cooking, which is better than it has to be for such a casual, informal place.
And the menu comes across simpler than it actually is. There are three kinds of fresh fish and three grilled meats-- then you choose one of three sauces to go on top. Ten straightforward sides-- mac & cheese, lemon-garlic spinach, wild mushrooms, glazed carrots with parsnips, rice pilaf, potatoes mashed baked fried au gratin, etc. Four pastas, for example a Fettuccine with roasted duck confit, grilled fennel, rapini, and a tomato cream sauce.
Mostly however, I'm a fan of the appetizers and the "Big" salads. A grilled shrimp and corn quesadilla is very good, but the seared Ahi tuna over avocado puree, cucumber, and jicama was absolutely outstanding. The tuna starter portion was large enough to serve as a main course. My favorite salad is the Ginger Chicken, made with romaine, carrots, red peppers, peas, crispy wonton skins, peanuts, and a sesame-ginger vinaigrette. Very tasty and very filling-- think a Maggiano's size portion. I've also had the Steak & Blue Cheese salad, which was quite good. She offers smaller side-salads as well, including a 50's "Wedge"-- iceberg lettuce with cuke, red onion, tomato, and blue cheese. I've not had any of the three sandwiches-- Lobster Club, 1/2# Angus sirloin burger, or BBQ chicken with caramelized onions and aged cheddar. MAG and husband liked the burger.
This is a very, very good and friendly corner bar, with conscientiously prepared food, done with flair and special attention. It isn't too loud, or dark, and there are no TVs blaring. Table seating is very comfortable with lots of room between tables, and it is a nice place to sit and chat with friends. I think its a welcome addition to Lincoln Square, precisely because it isn't the Grafton, or the Daily Grill, or the Bad Dog. I like the fact that they are focusing on a slightly more mature patron, and on intelligent preparations that might be appreciated by those patrons.
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