Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

The Birchwood Kitchen space won’t remain vacant for long. The Wicker Park restaurant’s space, known for its charming interior, quaint patio and standout brunch before shuttering last October at 2211 W. North Ave., will be reborn this spring with a new concept from two restaurant vets: The Winchester owner Chris Pappas and pastry chef Nancy Silver. The two met in 2001, when they not only both worked at Terry Alexander concepts (MOD and Soul Kitchen, respectively), but also lived across the hall from each other. They’re reuniting to open an all-day European-inspired restaurant that will offer the best of both Silver’s pastries and Pappas’ wine expertise. “Chris and I have been friends for a long time and I think we have different strengths, so it seemed like a great opportunity to do something with him,” Silver says. “Chris and I both lived and worked in that neighborhood for many years, so it feels like a homecoming to me.” Silver brings over 15 years of pastry experience, including time at Firefly in Los Angeles and Blackbird back home, as well as a panache for ice cream making (she owned Snookelfritz, a small-batch company that sold gourmet ice cream at Green City Market). Pappas has equal wine knowledge, overseeing programs at Telegraph, Bluebird, and Sepia before opening The Winchester 2014. Foursquare OpenTable The Winchester 1001 N Winchester Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 773 418 3277 Visit Website Foursquare Birchwood Kitchen 2211 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 276-2100 Visit Website
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Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

When two longtime friend and industry veterans come together on their first joint project, the result is a comfortable and casual café. Americano 2211 is the combined vision of pastry chef Nancy Silver (Blackbird, Charlie Trotter’s) and wine expert Chris Pappas (The Winchester, Sepia). The all-day eatery in now open at 2211 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park, with a walk-up counter serving breakfast and lunch. Dinner and bar service will be added in the coming months. “The name is a play on a European café, but ironically called Americano,” Pappas said in an official release. “Americano 2211 is reflective of true European café culture. Almost anywhere you go overseas there’s a café where people gather from morning until late at night.” That means get off your laptop and into a conversation over espresso. The 45-seat café has no WiFi — yet — nor a liquor license, however, a full beverage program is in the works. Executive chef Fred Noinaj (Avec, Analogue), who recently returned from Austin where he was the chef and owner of The Hey Ha Truck, presents an European-influenced menu with breakfast items such as burrata with savory eggplant jam as well as ham and soft scrambled egg biscuit sandwich with refogado. For lunch, the menu expands to offer panzanella salad and seared halloumi sandwich. An extensive pastry program ranges from sweet cocoa-crème fraiche coffee cake to savory wild mushroom tartlette. Dinner service will be coming soon along with that extensive wine and aperitif program that Pappas promised. The café will also offer Silver’s Snookelfritz ice creams and sorbets, including grapefruit-prosecco sorbet and coffee ice cream with red wine cherries and crushed amaretti. Come summer, Americano 2211 will also open an ivy-covered back patio with additional seating for 30. The interior retains the feel of its former occupant, Birchwood Kitchen, with its exposed brick façade and long wood bar that wraps around to the pastry case. Americano 2211 is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with evening hours coming soon. Foursquare Birchwood Kitchen 2211 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 276-2100 Visit Website
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Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

There are a few simple elements that make up a great croque madame. Do any of those wrong, and you’re going to have a disappointing version of a greasy grilled cheese. Do it right and it’s French comfort food at its best. The Croque Madame ($9.50) at Birchwood Kitchen is one of those excellent sandwiches that’s rich, tasty, and fit for any time of day. The foundation is fresh, crusty sourdough bread grilled in a hearty amount of butter. Thick slices of gruyère are salty, slightly sweet, and melted evenly on each side of the bread. Grainy, pungent mustard is hiding under those slices of cheese, through it’s spread unevenly so the flavor only appeared in certain bites. A melted, cheesy béchamel sauce lines the underside of the bread. Thin slices of country ham are nestled between the cheese and then the whole sandwich is topped with two very runny sunny side up eggs. They’re lightly salted and peppered and drench your sandwich in yolk the moment you poke them. It’s obviously not a sandwich you pick up and eat, but the uneasy cutting is worth the decadence of this sandwich, which can only be lovingly described as heavy. If you love this French sandwich, Birchwood is a place worthy of creating it.
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Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

Restaurateur Chris Pappas (The Winchester, Sepia) and pastry chef Nancy Silver (Blackbird, Firefly, Charlie Trotter’s) have been friends for some time. Now they get to be collaborators.The two are partnering to create Americano 2211 (2211 W. North Ave.) in Wicker Park, in the old Birchwood Kitchen space. They’re aiming for an April debut. “We’re pretty much done with construction,” said Pappas. “We just passed our health inspection, and we’re playing around with different recipes.”The restaurant will mimic a European cafe, with an all-day menu that starts with Silver’s pastries and coffee in the morning (counter service only) and transition to a full-service menu in the evening. A liquor license, when it arrives, will let Americano offer aperitifs, digestifs, wine and cocktails. Americano 2211 will resemble The Winchester, but Pappas stressed that the concepts will not be identical. The executive chef will be Fred Noinaj, a young (26 years old) talent whose resume includes cooking at Avec and Analogue. He’s friends with Duncan Biddulph at The Winchester, which got him the interview. “We did a tasting,” Pappas said, “and we were impressed by his food and by his demeanor.”Americano will have seating for 45; an enclosed patio behind the restaurant will be able to seat another 30.Phil Vettel is a Tribune critic.pvettel@tribpub.comTwitter @philvettel
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Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

There are a few simple elements that make up a great croque madame. Do any of those wrong, and you’re going to have a disappointing version of a greasy grilled cheese. Do it right and it’s French comfort food at its best. The Croque Madame ($9.50) at Birchwood Kitchen is one of those excellent sandwiches that’s rich, tasty, and fit for any time of day.
birchwood kitchen chicago 5

Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

Dinner service will be coming soon along with that extensive wine and aperitif program that Pappas promised. The café will also offer Silver’s Snookelfritz ice creams and sorbets, including grapefruit-prosecco sorbet and coffee ice cream with red wine cherries and crushed amaretti. Come summer, Americano 2211 will also open an ivy-covered back patio with additional seating for 30. The interior retains the feel of its former occupant, Birchwood Kitchen, with its exposed brick façade and long wood bar that wraps around to the pastry case.
birchwood kitchen chicago 6

Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

The Birchwood Kitchen space won’t remain vacant for long. The Wicker Park restaurant’s space, known for its charming interior, quaint patio and standout brunch before shuttering last October at 2211 W. North Ave., will be reborn this spring with a new concept from two restaurant vets: The Winchester owner Chris Pappas and pastry chef Nancy Silver.
birchwood kitchen chicago 7

Birchwood Kitchen Chicago

The foundation is fresh, crusty sourdough bread grilled in a hearty amount of butter. Thick slices of gruyère are salty, slightly sweet, and melted evenly on each side of the bread. Grainy, pungent mustard is hiding under those slices of cheese, through it’s spread unevenly so the flavor only appeared in certain bites. A melted, cheesy béchamel sauce lines the underside of the bread. Thin slices of country ham are nestled between the cheese and then the whole sandwich is topped with two very runny sunny side up eggs. They’re lightly salted and peppered and drench your sandwich in yolk the moment you poke them. It’s obviously not a sandwich you pick up and eat, but the uneasy cutting is worth the decadence of this sandwich, which can only be lovingly described as heavy. If you love this French sandwich, Birchwood is a place worthy of creating it.
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The two met in 2001, when they not only both worked at Terry Alexander concepts (MOD and Soul Kitchen, respectively), but also lived across the hall from each other. They’re reuniting to open an all-day European-inspired restaurant that will offer the best of both Silver’s pastries and Pappas’ wine expertise.