Photo by: Jen Park '14
On a whim, class gourmet, Naveen Dasa '14, posted a link on Facebook inviting those interested to join him on a dinner crawl in Wicker Park. Within a day, the event was sold out. More than 100 Boothies took a break from first of classes and flooded the streets of Wicker Park / Bucktown to partake in the Inaugural Fall Dinner Crawl.
Organized by the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce, more than 30 restaurants opened their doors to hungry and eager taste-testers. The dinner crawl was organized into two routes: the Knife Route and the Fork Route, each with about 15 restaurants. Boothies overwhelmingly chose the Knife Route.
Knocking back deceptively small bites of assorted dishes, Boothies and other citizens of Chicago strolled down Milwaukee and Damen streets, with occasional turns to spots down W. North and Wabansia.
The Crocodile, which featured artisan pizza, marked the start of the crawl. Multitudes roamed the streets in search of the next great dish. Highlights included Francesca's Forno's pumpkin soup, which was a surprise addition to the menu and Feast's braised short ribs. Another required stop on the crawl was Grass Fed, which not only featured steak but also a surprise dessert, butterscotch pot de crème.
The weary few who ventured further down Damen to Coast and Red Door Kitchen & Bar were rewarded with what some deem to be the "best sushi in town" and some bacon-wrapped asparagus.
The clear favorite of the evening, however, was Café Absinthe, which served a generous array of juicy lamb rack, seared scallops, crab cakes, and beet salad. While people zipped through the other restaurants, eager to move onto the next culinary adventure, they lingered for a while at Café Absinthe, taking in the ambiance and waiting for the dishes to be served.
Perhaps unready for the fact that its menu would be the highlight of the evening, the kitchen at Café Absinthe struggled to keep up with the growing number of people who came with healthy appetites. At moments, due to the scarcity of available dishes, hungry people resorted to primal, hunting instincts to snatch up dishes as soon as they became available on the table, buffet style.
Despite these momentary glitches, however, everyone was able to get a taste of what Wicker Park Bucktown had to offer. By night's end, everyone left the dinner crawl fully satiated.