By Jennifer Olvera

Paul Virant has quietly, steadily earned a following for fashionable—but never fussy—hyper-local food served in a room of minimalist elegance, with twinkling crystal sconces, B&W photography, and pin-tucked banquettes complemented by Miesian-style seating. House charcuterie is a stand-out, a palette of ever-changing selections that might include silken, flaked salt-topped pork-liver mousse, lightly sweet veal salami cotto or coppa—all plated with sweet-tangy ramp piccalilli on a pool of smoked apple butter and always with homemade toast. Crisp, pan-roasted whitefish comes on a seared custard of semolina gnocchi, topped with herbaceous, marinated ribbons of zucchini and yellow squash, and is finished with fragrant brown butter and white wine. Gooey, buttery, cinnamon-laced babka completes the meal on a cloud of tangy coffee cream with apricot puree and blueberry compote. Welcome to the contemporary Midwest of labor-intensive dishes, worthy of a splurge—plus small production wines, artisanal brews, and farm-fresh cocktails.

menu musts*

Nathan’s charcuterie plate
Pan-fried soft shell crab
Pan-roasted whitefish
Wood-grilled, dry-aged Dietzler Farms beef loin and crispy oxtail

*subject to change view full menu here

sweet seats

Tables tucked in back of the house-like, multi-room space are most intimate, while seats before the fireplace up front offer views of the long, sleek bar.

chew on this

Hidden from public view is an upstairs pantry stocked with row upon row of preserves, many of them experimental or canned impromptu based on what appeared at the market on any given day. Because they’re dipped into year-round, don’t be surprised to see pickled ramps in January or blueberries come March. Mingled in, too, are prized jars brought in by regular—and adoring—patrons.


dining room: Mon.–Sat. 5 PM–10 PM
lounge/bar: Mon.–Thurs. 5 PM–11 PM;
Fri.–Sat. 5 PM–12 midnight
closed Sundays

price range

$16 (wood-grilled burger) to $39 (barramundi “en papillote”)