For the last five years, Gather chef/partner Ken Carter has waited for the opportunity to show Lincoln Square more of his skills, as he’s made the most of his restaurant’s tiny kitchen. He’ll have more space to play with next week when The Warbler opens next door at 4535 N. Lincoln Avenue in the former Bad Dog Tavern/Mash space. Carter and owner David Breo have planned a veggie-forward menu with fresh pasta, flatbreads, and grain bowls.
“There’s around 30-plus menu items — I could never do all of them at Gather,” Carter said. “It’s a whole new experience.”
While the kitchen provides Carter with salvation (it’s five to six times larger than Gather’s, Carter said), the real draw to the space is the 120-seat patio, a Lincoln Square staple that borders a city of Chicago parking lot. While parked cars don’t seem glamorous, the lot’s existence gives outdoor patrons unobstructed southern views.
“It’s a great way to spend a summer afternoon,” Breo said.
Carter has longed to serve more pastas, and now he has room for a pasta cooker and a extruder in his new kitchen. He’ll have a handful of varieties on hand at once. The opening menu includes a tortellini (carrot mascarpone, shaved carrot, caramelized onion sauce, walnuts) and chitarra (shrimp, cherry tomato, garlic, Pernot, mint, chili flake). Chef is also excited about The Warbler’s burger, as its griddled patty differs from Gather’s. Another highlight is the tamari-glazed Korean-style chicken wings, Breo said. While Gather is wine focused, The Warbler will turn its attentions toward cocktails, and unlike the older sibling, they have draft lines for beer.
The team vowed they will learn the community’s cravings so they can be successful in the space that was most recently Mash. Some groups will want to sip on cocktails all day on the patio. Couples will come in at night for dinner. They’re willing to adjust their offerings depending on demand.
“We intend to be nothing less than the best neighborhood restaurant that we can be,” Breo said.
After the restaurant opens, they’ll add lunch and brunch, as well as an early-bird supper club special. Yes, the pun’s intended, as the restaurant’s named after the bird. Check out the menu below. The Warbler officially opens on Tuesday, January 23.