In the area between Avondale and Old Irving Park, there aren't many foodie dining options, but when Bread & Wine opens in January in Independence Park, that will all change.
Driving down Irving Park west toward the Kennedy, you all of a sudden notice a sign that doesn't belong to an auto-repair shop, a fast-food joint or a funeral home and it catches your eye. This is the future home of the restaurant/market being opened by business partners Jennifer Wisniewski, a restaurant industry vet who has worked at Naha and Cafe Absinthe and Lisa Fosler Kelly, a now non-practicing lawyer whose family owned a wine shop in California and can now be called chef after graduating from Kendall College earlier this year.
The pair teamed with chef Curtis Gamble, who has worked in spots in Pittsburgh (Six Penn Kitchen, Cafe at the Frick), to open this artisan food and wine market paired with a bistro and wine bar on the city's northwest side.
Even though Bread & Wine won't officially open until after the New Year, you can start getting some of their housemade products, like granola, curry coconut cashews, spiced bacon walnut brittle and Thai basil and lime shortbread cookies online now. But when the restaurant and shop opens, those offerings will branch out to include locally made products like Rare Bird Preserves, Chicago Honey Co-Op quince and apple honey, Potter's Crackers, McClure's pickles, Pasta Puttana products, Intelligentsia coffee and more.
The team, which started debuting its food at local farmers' markets this year, will open the retail shop earlier in the day, but then open up for late-afternoon snacking and then dinner. As for lunch, they may add it on the weekends and eventually during weekdays, "if there's a need for it. Once we get our feet wet, we'll definitely pull a brunch out," Wisniewski said.
The 60-seat "rustic modern" space, which took over a former laundromat, features a reclaimed barn wood and white corian bar, grainy pine tabletops, modern lighting and a green/dark grey/white color scheme. The 10-seat wine bar, which will offer glass pours between $7 and $12 and bottles between $15 and $50 (both at the bar and retail), sits in the middle of the room. Tables to accommodate 40 people sit just beyond and an additional 10 seats sit at kitchen-facing bar.
The menu will have a farm-to-table focus with cheese, charcuterie, small plates and large-format plates. But it also caters to the different ethnicities in the area with items like banh mi with country pate and pickled carrot; duck confit pierogis; and chorizo tacos with queso fresco. But it will also have things like a mustard-seed meatloaf; chocolate pecan bread pudding; Amish Farms chicken breast; house-cured salmon toast; burger with sharp Wisconsin cheddar and red onion jam; and housemade fettuccine with pumpkin, oyster mushrooms and goat cheese.
"It's accessible food with an edge; an interesting yet nostalgic menu," Foster Kelly said. Both women live in the Independence Park area, which has a mix of young families and older folks who've been there for a while. "[It's] people like us who are foodies and wine people and another contingent of older people who maybe like wine or food, but are set in their ways," she said. "We want to bring those two together."
· Bread & Wine [website]