Some chefs bristle when the term “New American” describes a restaurant. But the chefs behind John’s Food & Wine, which just opened in Lincoln Park, lean into the phrase.
“Tom and I met at Grammercy Tavern so we certainly identify with that cooking,” co-chef and co-owner Adam McFarland says.
It’s about putting some finesse into a menu that crosses cultures including something as simple as chicken noodle soup or a pulled pork sandwich. McFarland met his culinary partner, Tom Rogers while working at Gramercy Tavern, the legendary New York restaurant that opened in 1994 from two restaurant icons that have crossed over into the mainstream, Danny Meyer (Shake Shack) and Tom Colicchio (Top Chef).
But before that breakthrough, Gramercy was known for its approachability, a restaurant where customers didn’t need a reservation for a quality and affordable meal. John’s, which takes over the Nookies Too space — a diner that served families and the late-night crowd spiraling out of the bars neat Halsted and Armitage — has the makings of the Gramercy light. McFarland says they’ll spotlight vegetables, giving “proper respect” to whatever is in season making sure dishes are vibrant and fun. The duo enjoys smoking meats, so the rotating menu will feature items like the aforementioned pulled pork and corned beef.
Dinner will offer more composed dishes. But as Chicago sorts through the impact of rising labor costs, John’s will employ a hybrid service system with food runners where customers order at the counter. After diners are seated, they can use QR codes to order additional items. A sommelier will be on hand for any questions about beverage pairings.
McFarland has fond memories of growing up in Ohio and seeing his grandfather run Tangier Bar & Pizza in Youngstown, Ohio. His goal is to recreate that “honest and approachable” atmosphere at John’s.
Perhaps it’s not a “Martha” moment from Batman and Superman, but McFarland and Rogers do share a connection. Both of their fathers are named “John” and the two played major roles in the restaurants, McFarland says.
Walk through the space below and check out some of the restaurant’s dishes below.
John’s Food & Wine, 2114 N. Halsted Street, open 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.