An Evanston restaurant that brings something new to the local food scene has finally arrived. Found, located across the street from Whole Foods on Chicago Avenue, possesses the rare combination of quality food and intriguing ambience that has eluded Evanston for years.
Whether it’s the jellyfish tank, the aging couches or the assortment of beautiful artwork on the brick wall interior, it’s hard to miss Found. Noteworthy restaurateur and owner Amy Morton has put together an array of obscure and eclectic period pieces and furniture that somehow manage to gel and make for an interior that lets people dine in a classy, yet relaxed atmosphere. Found’s layout, such as the sofa bar seating and the open kitchen, also aid that ‘dine in comfort’ mission. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re dining in a trendy Chicago restaurant, instead of the upper-middle class, occasionally-dreary Evanston.
There are countless cases in the dining sphere, though, where the food doesn’t match the design. No need to worry here. Morton and accomplished chef Nicole Pederson make for a powerful team, and your meal will live up to their respective reputations in the industry. The menu, which boasts quality local ingredients, lets the diner tailor their experience to their liking. Primarily made up of small plates such as flatbreads, sandwiches and cheese plates, the descriptions leap off the menu and beg for consumption. Don’t be wary, however, if your party is not in the sharing mood: entrées, such as hanger steak or whole-roasted fish, also satisfy.
In the parade of both wonderfully timed and delicious small plates items, the Sausage and Clams Flatbread ($12) came first. This isn’t your typical, cardboard-like Allison Hall flatbread. Clams, house-made sausage, bitter mustard greens and fennel work harmoniously and start the meal off on a high note.
One of the more obscure items under the small plates section of the menu is the Fried Oyster Tacos with Bacon and Tomatillos ($10). Here it shows how bacon performs best as a sidekick, while the decadent yet delicate fried oyster takes center-stage with its crispy exterior and buttery interior.
We changed up the pace from the delicate tacos to the bold Twice-Fried Chicken Wings with Smoked Chiles, Lemon and Honey ($11). This dish comes with five sizable chicken wings and is a must-order, as the price-portion ratio is one of the most generous you’ll find for this level of dining. Dressed in a tangy sauce with Asian flavors, the wings are wonderfully fatty and flavorful. As hands are the means of taking down this monster plate, the staff will bring over wet napkins…but be safe and pack the Tide-to-Go.
The menu’s showstopper may seem the most unassuming. The Roasted Chicken Sandwich with Shatta and Fresh Cheese on Sourdough ($9) will introduce you to open-faced heaven. The slight heat from the shatta, a Middle Eastern hot sauce, is perfectly counterbalanced by the bitterness of the greens. A thin layer of mild spreadable cheese on classic sourdough bread tames the composition. Unlike the wings, the sandwich lets the flavor of the chicken take control in all its natural glory.
For dessert, you can’t leave without trying the Pumpkin Gelato Sundae with Cream Cheese and Graham Crackers ($5). The Chocolate Pot de Crème with Shortbreads and Crème Fraiche ($5) is also a treat.
Found isn’t just about an ephemera-filled interior and outstanding food. In an email conversation with the owner, Morton said that if she was going to open another restaurant, she wanted to also make a difference and help the community.
Found hires those that would otherwise be homeless. Morton said that “finding the first job out of homelessness is one of the hardest things a person can do,” and “the restaurant business is one of the best businesses in the world to hire someone in an entry level position, allowing them to move up the ladder so to speak and teach them a trade.”
Found’s journey to fruition took several years, and Morton chose to establish it in her home city because Found’s concept “was about being local and community based.” Find yourself at Found the next time you want to have a quality dining experience without traveling to Chicago, while supporting an establishment with a good cause in mind.
Address: 1631 Chicago Ave (between Church St & Davis St), Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Tue-Thur, 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 4:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; Sun, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.