This Alternative To Lincoln Park's Sports Bars Also Has An Amazing Burger
While there are excellent cafes and Michelin-starred restaurants in this area of Lincoln Park, casual dining has long been dominated by sports bars with lackluster food. For people looking for something casual, but innovative and delicious, White Oak Tavern & Inn (1200 W. Webster Ave.) is a godsend.
It would be easy to make a meal out of just the appetizers. The hen of the wood mushrooms (also known as maitake) were fried just enough to bear that extra texture and buttermilk flavor and paired with summer’s finest pickled asparagus. We also enjoyed the perfectly crispy pork rinds and a crispy pork dish with an intriguing kimchi sauce.
The burger easily belongs on Best Burger lists alongside lauded burgers like Au Cheval's. It's topped with two types of excellent cheese—aged cheddar for savory flavor and butterkase, a cheese that melts perfectly. It's finished off with juicy thick-cut pickles, aioli, smoked chili ketchup and an absolutely perfect bun that they make in house.
The drink menu boasts an impressive list of wine and an excellent cocktail menu focusing purely on domestic spirits, and they follow through with it wholeheartedly. But lovers of the more esoteric will appreciate their vermouth selection, available in the form of a flight. Tell them what you like and they'll give you a line-up of refreshing bittersweet delights like Vya (California), Imbue and Ransom (Oregon) vermouths.
Much of the menu uses 1871 dairy, some of the best quality dairy you can find in Chicago, including the comforting cookies and milk jam dessert choice. We couldn’t say no to fresh rhubarb, so we opted for the rye cake finished with a pillowy white chocolate mousse and a little polenta cookie.
Opening Chef John Asbaty recently departed for a new project, but White Oak plans to continue its Midwestern sensibilities and destination-worthy charm as talented Sous Chef Scott Weisner takes the helm. While it's only a bit of a tavern and definitely not an inn [Ed. Note- correction, it actually does have an inn, a guesthouse with four bedrooms], it's definitely a destination restaurant and a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
By Melissa McEwen and Kristine Sherred