Birchwood Kitchen, open since April, 2009, is a neighborhood cafe in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Birchwood is approachable, comfortable, and relaxed, with friendly servers and outstanding food at very reasonable price points. Perhaps best of all, Birchwood is BYO and boasts a lovely backyard patio.
Birchwood slow-roasts its own meats, makes all of its condiments from scratch, and bakes house made pastries, which are offered in a front bakery case. The menu changes often and daily specials follow the bounty of the season and the offerings of local farms and producers.
Birchwood is BYO, so when my friend Whitney and I recently dined there for dinner, we brought a bottle of sparkling rosé wine, which ended up matching perfectly with the menu items that we tried.
We started off with a fantastic Baked Mushroom Ragu, with Manchego frico and toasted baguette. The ragu was not overly rich or cheesy, and instead boasted plenty of meaty mushrooms. The portion was generous, as well, so that we nibbled on it throughout our meal, and I still had plenty to take home.
My favorite dish that we tried was the Spiced Roasted Squash, mixed into a lovely chickpea and wheatberry salad, with toasted hazelnuts, Pecorino cheese, and a phenomenal warm brown butter vinaigrette that brought the entire dish together. I really appreciated the nuttiness of the wheatberries again the softness of the squash; the dish just worked.
The only dish that did not hit it out of the park for us was the Vegetable Stew. Served with root vegetables, leeks, chard, and herb dumplings in a vegetable broth, the stew fell a bit flat for us and could have used more seasoning and less butter in the broth.
My other favorite from our meal was the Smoked Salmon Salad, topped with arugula and served on a wonderful toasted bagel, along with a side salad. The smoked salmon was some of the best I have ever tasted, and thanks to the generous portion size, I was able to enjoy it for breakfast the next day, as well. This item is also offered on Birchwood’s breakfast menu, and rightly so.
Whitney enjoyed the Grilled Gruyere sandwich, with onion jam, mustard, and kale, served on sourdough bread, alongside a side salad. It looked delicious!
Our meal was fantastic and the service was great. I am eager to return for brunch, as well, and enjoy it on the outdoor patio. I am so happy that I finally discovered Birchwood and I cannot wait to go back!
Birchwood is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday through Friday, and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are not accepted.
2211 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL
While my meal was complimentary, all opinions expressed herein are my own.