The Winchester has been one of the most talked about restaurants since it opened this winter in Ukrainian Village. Its name usually follows the phrase, “There’s this great new brunch place!” but the Winchester is much more than brunch. They also offer lunch, dinner, and café items, all executed with their signature pared-down sophistication.
1001 N. Winchester Ave. (Ukrainian Village)
Hours: breakfast 7:00 am-3:00 pm, lunch 11:00 am -3:00 pm, dinner: 5:00 pm- 10:00 pm, cafe: 11:00 am- 10:00 pm, weekend brunch 9:00 am-2:30 pm
It’s the clean, hip version of shabby chic. White stone inside and garden seating outside make the Winchester infinitely instagrammable. Great place for sleek cocktails, pretty coffee concoctions, and a clientele that looks like it’s in town for an art/music/film festival you haven’t heard of. The chicness of the place almost makes you forgive the incredibly slow service, but maybe that’s part of the ~thing~
This is not your everyday quick, cheap cafe/lunch spot, but it is by no means out of reach. Coffee prices are similar to a mid-grade artisan cafe, and entrees range from about $8 to $16, depending on how fancy you want to get.
I have had the brunch there, and it was excellent, but on my most recent visit I wanted to check out a new offering: the weekly three-course vegetarian tasting menu. Unfortunately my timing was off, and they don’t start serving the three-course menu until the 5:00 pm dinner service, so I ordered off the lunch menu. I started with a cup of the soup-of-the-day, which happened to be a vegan minestrone filled with carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, corn, and orzo pasta in a salty tomato broth. It arrived hot with two slices of toasted and oiled crostini.
Next up was the avocado toast, a classic at the Winchester. The avocado is piled on thick whole wheat toast and topped with a grapefruit and chili chutney. Following that was the superb chickpea wrap which consisted of falafel, yogurt, feta cheese, kale, and vegetables all wrapped in thin filo dough. It exceeded my expectations based on the menu description and went perfectly with the crispy fingerling potatoes and pickles that came on the side.
I finished with coffee, a bottomless cup from Chicago-based BowTruss Coffee that went perfectly with the gossip my friend and I had left to dish :)
The Bamboo Factor
The Winchester tries to use local and organic produce as much as possible, according to their website, but no specific farms/producers are listed, making me wonder if it is just adhering to the ‘eat local’ trend for style reasons. Sustainability does not seem to be the main focus. That being said, it is not by any means a backwards or wasteful establishment. With its emphasis on the small, rare, and artisan, I believe the Winchester has the potential to be a front-runner in the environmentally-friendly dining game.
I give the Winchester three throwing stars