Lincoln Park, Chicago, Drink Pairings

Coppervine, You Are So Fine.

Photo: Marc Much, Eater Chicago

Photo: Marc Much, Eater Chicago

After living in Lincoln Park near the Halsted/Armitage intersection for just over a year, I was ready for some new restaurants to move into our ‘hood. Most of the press about new openings in that area has been focused on Lettuce Entertain You’s Stella Barra Pizzeria and Summer House Santa Monica. However, right next door and in the space that used to house Boston Blackie’s moved Coppervine, the brainchild of Just Grapes’ Don Sritong. Don was able to persuade Zealous’ chef Michael Taus to join him as consulting chef and together they opened not only a stunning restaurant, complete with a 60 foot copper vine that runs through the restaurant, but one that is innovative and delicious.

The focus of Coppervine is in the pairings – beer, cocktail and wine pairings to be exact. Every item on the menu, including desserts, lists a suggested drink pairing. One has the option of pairing every course with a drink, or just certain courses. One also has the option to order all drinks by the glass or wines by the bottle, as well. At first, the overload of options made the task of deciding what to drink overwhelming. As a result, we first decided what we wanted to eat, followed by in what we wanted to imbibe.

The menu is broken down into small, medium and large plates, and sharing is encouraged. The menu if meat-heavy, but I, the pescetarian, still had many options, including a creamy Maine Lobster Mac & Cheese, perfectly cooked Grilled Baby Octopus and Grilled Striped Bass. I was jealous, though, of my carnivore friends who thoroughly enjoyed Housemade Pappardelle Pasta with Oxtail-Tomato Ragout and Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta. The Crispy Miller Farms Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes that our neighbors ordered looked absolutely divine, as well.

I enjoyed my meal with a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon which was big and smooth but not overpowering. My husband started with the Brown Butter Old Fashioned which would be a perfect after-dinner drink in my opinion, and then moved on to the Cabernet. One of our guests ordered a tasting of certain recommended pairing wines and a glass of another, and our other guest took all of the thought out of it and chose the recommended drink pairings with all of the courses, and selected a nice mix of beers, wines and cocktails.

Dessert was Warm Valrhona Chocolate Molten Cake with Tahitian Vanilla Chantilly, and it was divine. The richness of the dark chocolate together with the warmth of the cake and the coolness of the Chantilly cream created a perfect harmony of flavors. The NV Quinta do Noval Black Port was the requisite cherry on top.

At the end of the meal, Mr. Sritong and Chef Zealous both made a point of visiting our table. We talked extensively with both and felt a warmth, sincerity and happiness exuding from both of them. While Coppervine exudes a fanciness in its décor, Mr. Sritong and Chef Zealous remind you that Coppervine is a neighborhood restaurant where all are welcome.

An excellent meal from a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.