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The Food Guy: John's Food and Wine

At John's Food and Wine, the owners have decided to invest in back-of-the-house staff, rather than servers up front.

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Much has been made about the service model at John’s Food & Wine – an American restaurant in Lincoln Park with a great wine list. But at the end of the day, you’ll be coming back for the food.

“We try and keep up with what food is coming out of the ground to put food on the plate so our guests know what time of year it is,” said co-owner and co-chef Adam McFarland.

McFarland collaborates on the seasonal menu – and cooking duties – with Thomas Rogers. The two have decided to invest in back-of-the-house staff, rather than servers up front.

“You order when you come in, we have a point-of-sale right at our counter, and then our host takes you to your seat; from there it’s much like any other restaurant," McFarland stated.

At lunch, the fried Branzino sandwich is a standout. Several fillets are layered on toasted sesame buns.

“It’s got a kimchi ketchup and some melted leek aioli. A celery root and caper slaw, with some parsley and watercress,” said McFarland.

Don’t forget a side of the outstanding beef fat fries, served with a rich aioli, they are simultaneously tender and crispy.

Locally-made stracciatella cheese is slightly runny.

“We place an order at night, they deliver it by hand the next morning,” he said.

It’s a perfect canvas for what’s to come:

“A caponata; candied sunflower seeds provide some crunch; herbs for freshness, and a little bit of vinegar and olive oil to kind of round everything out,” said McFarland.

Served with grilled country bread, it’s a complex spread like no other.

At dinner, perfectly seared Hokkaido scallops with braised radish rest in a sauce fortified with smoked butter and fennel.

Meanwhile, lobsters are summarily cooked and cleaned throughout the day for an outstanding salad.

“120 pounds of lobster a week. It’s one of the dishes that’s been on the menu since Day 1.”

Cavatelli pasta is a new Spring dish they’re currently proud of.

“We’re making the cavatelli in-house; fava beans, we’ve got some braised lamb and it’s finished with some anchovy butter. Good amount of white wine; we use whey to deglaze the vegetables, and so it brings a lot of acidity and brightness to that dish,” he said.

Here's where you can go:

John’s Food & Wine

2114 N. Halsted St.

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