Formerly: On those wincingly cold Chicago winter nights, all you want to do is get home and into pajamas as soon as possible. Instead, have dinner at Rustik and transform your evening into a cozy night out.
This small Logan Square restaurant, next-door neighbor to Hachi's Kitchen, serves contemporary American cuisine and aces the "modern urban lodge" look. In addition to a warm green color palette and dark mahogany wood seating, there are also a few painted trees on the walls, a chandelier made out of antlers and unfinished wood shelves displaying liquor behind the bar.
It's definitely a restaurant where you can enjoy the scenery (Rustik could easily be transplanted to a trendy ski town), but once the food arrives, your attention will be on the plate. We were greeted with warm, chewy, rosemary-scented flatbread that quickly disappeared (thankfully the staff isn't stingy on the refills). The tomato soup and grilled cheese appetizer ($7) features a generous portion of soup with a savory fennel bite paired with a creamy half-sandwich cut into two sticks.
The simple Rustik house salad ($6) dresses up field greens with a flavorful vinaigrette, cold roasted asparagus and a single crouton with a dollop of goat cheese. For entrees, chefs Tim Leahy and Pedro Angel enhance usually ho-hum items like meatloaf (stuffed with boursin cheese), fish & chips (comes with a wasabi tempura sauce) and sirloin burgers (stuffed with chorizo, bacon and smoked gouda). Most of the spirits here are red, white and sparkling wines by the bottle (ranging in price from $29-$65) with a few by the glass for $7-$9. However, there is a small selection of beer and a full bar. Don't skip the Pama Cider ($10), a warm mix of Pama pomegranate vodka, apple cider, orange zest and a cinnamon stick.
Rustik's urban lodge-feel should do well in the summer too, especially with the Logan Square Margatini ($10), a margarita with Don Julio tequila served up in a martini glass. We'll have to wait for the warm-weather menu, but we're sure it won't disappoint.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Maya Henderson