Nestled discreetly behind a simple black banner and humble gold script on Chicago Avenue, Found Kitchen is the newest addition to Evanston’s list of classy restaurants. Having already made Chicago Magazine’s top 5 list of Best New Restaurants of 2013, Found is the brainchild of owner Amy Morton, who imagined a community-oriented American bistro with seasonal rustic dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Nervous about the no-reservation policy, I timed my arrival at 5:30 p.m.—half an hour early to avoid the peak wave of hungry suburbanites, and an hour after Found opened for the day. By the time I got there, the place was already packed, the brick walls guarding the flavorful haven. Reminiscent of the Beat generation, the interior design was nothing short of eclectic. We were seated at a crowded lounge on fur-back chairs, reputed “found” courthouse benches and an antique oak chair adorned with brass buttons surrounding an oblong coffee table. On the brick walls hung faded Renaissance-style art and embellished mirrors.
The bracket-shaped bar, which featured inspirational chalk quotes on its immediate ceiling, was even more crowded than the rest of the restaurant. People lined the bar the whole way down, eager to try the Midwest’s acclaimed craft beer among other drinks. Others without seats huddled around in small circles, swirling the liquids inside their champagne glasses and added to the thick murmur of the dim-lit restaurant as they waited for the coveted bar stool.
We ordered after a lengthy explanation from an eager server, who accentuated menu highlights and took the time to trace each plate’s ingredients back to local farms and steakhouses. I ordered the “creamy polenta with almonds, mushrooms, smokey blue cheese and a slow cooked farm egg,” while my friends ordered artisan burgers stacked about four inches high with beef, French onion spread, and other ingredients encased in a pretzel bun. The organic and local palette strung its away across the menu—an order of a staple Diet Coke was met with a matter-of-fact “We’re au naturale—craft root beer?” Nonetheless, when our food arrived quickly, we were pleasantly surprised. Coming in small plates, the food was rich with multiple layers of flavor, but light enough to please the palette. My friends could not stop raving about their tasteful burger, and the huge size too, all for just a flat $12.
Although the service after the dinnertime rush slowed dramatically and the alto buzz echoed off the walls to make it hard to hear conversations across the table, Found, no doubt, has warmly found a place in the heart of Chicago foodies.