i love Zinfandel restaurant, and rushed over to susan and drew goss's other restaurant, west side tavern, saturday night. it opened 2 weeks ago, with luis juarez from zinfandel heading the kitchen. until recently it was isabel's, a puerto rican restaurant and for those with long memories, jim and johnnie's italian, back in the 80's. its an 1880's building and remains one of my favorite spaces. brick walls, high tin ceiling, long tall windows, hardwood floors and a wooden bar. it's gorgeous in a casual way. the kind of place you can eat at dressed any which way. and the food doesnt disappoint. the menu is small, and the price can add up with alcohol. the menu bears a strong resemblance to zinfandel in using a few well chosen foods in each dish and is american inspired (there is pasta in several of the entrees, and polenta as a starter). the only starter our party of 4 tried was so fantastic that i'll probably order it sometime for my entire meal. it's called tavern antipasto and includes humbolt fog goat cheese, pesto, braised white beans, oven dried tomatoes, olives, a sublime prosciutto and overly greasy toasts. at $7.50 it provided enough for all 4 to snack on. my father liked it so much he did order another one for his entree. other starters include skillet roasted mussels, shrimp springrolls and the intriguingly described 'flatbread with herb-roasted mushrooms, leeks, white truffle oil and mozzerella'.
there are 2 salads, 2 soups (black bean and wild rice with duck confit). the entrees which i've tried are pan seared salmon, french lentils, spinach and orange tarragon butter; top sirloin steak with zinfandel reduction and my choice, mixed fresh mushrooms, pine nuts, herbs over cavatapi (a spiral pasta). all were excellent and ranged in price from $13.50-$17.50. other options include duck confit, roasted chicken, pork chop and halibut. the desserts are american, including fruit crisp, brownie sundae, ice cream and a fantastic lemon chess pie, which was a tart lemon curd in a thick shortbread crust. i will definitely be heading back. closed sundays.
west side tavern, 1329 w. chicago (just west of ogden and the kennedy) (312)666-6175