Fairly inconspicuous from the outside, the 44th Ward Dinner Party, nicknamed "The Ward," more than makes up for its plain exterior on the inside. The entryway is made to look like an old-fashioned sitting room, complete with antique couches and chairs and an enormous built-in bookcase. This look is continued in the main seating and bar area, where ornate wallpaper, gold-framed mirrors and candelabras complete the vintage design scheme.
The menu, on the other hand, is much more modern, featuring creative variations on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Five of the six signature sandwiches are named for things in the neighborhood, including The Vic, Belmont Harbor and 60657, a vegan offering with mozzarella soy cheese and soy bacon. Each comes on a different kind of bread, from Wonder Bread with the Basique (filled with American cheese) to tomato focaccia bollo for Market Days (with mozzarella, roasted roma tomatoes and basil) to a tasty olive panini with The Vic, a vegetarian sandwich stuffed with portabella mushrooms, grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, basil pesto and goat cheese. Sandwiches range from $4 to $10 and come with a mixed green salad or sweet curry-seasoned fries.
If none of these options strike your fancy, be bold and create your own concoction from a list of 10 breads, 10 cheeses, four spreads and 14 extras (veggies and meats). If you think your creation is worthy, write it down on the back of your menu and The Ward will consider adding it to the menu. If your sandwich is chosen, $1 for each one ordered will go to a local charity of your choice.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Erica Walkup