Edgewater Gets Some Nookies

Since opening in Old Town in 1973 Nookies has been a standby for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Its Lincoln Park and Boys Town locations are also go-to spots in their respective neighborhoods. Now there’s a new Nookies in Edgewater, and this one is inviting their neighbors in for dinner, too.

Each Nookies isn’t a cookie-cutter replica of the others. The menus and decor reflect the neighborhoods they call home. Their newest location is both the biggest departure from the others as well as being inclusive of their combined history in a quite literal fashion.

The decor is warm and muted, fostered by a forest-themed color palate. Even the floor is a dark wood color, and the long grains in the tiles are purposely broken up with thin lines of grout so there aren’t long, perfectly placed rows. The lighting is designed to go from day to night, which, according to partner Michael Mitsoglou, was a challenge with the restaurant’s floor to ceiling windows and corner location. They placed spotlights above each table that are dimmed during the day and turned up as it gets dark outside, and each beam of light focuses on the center of the table so noone is blinded.

I sat down with Michael for lunch and his passion was tangible. I say I sat down with him, but it was more like I sat and he’d pop up every few minutes like a Jack in the Box. He’d notice a guest needed something, or he’d greet somebody at the door, or it was time to make his rounds, or he wanted me to try their new calamari recipe or one of their fresh fresh juices.

We sat in a large corner booth and I watched the restaurant fill up, some tables turning over and others, like the booth in the opposite corner, remaining occupied straight from breakfast through lunch by the same diners. As he showed me the newly designed menus, edited to make the pages and pages of options more user-friendly, I had a hard time deciding what to order because so much sounded amazing. It was lunch time, but that carrot cake french toast was enticing. And what about the smoked chicken salad with maplewood smoked chicken breast, grapes, pecans, red peppers and goat cheese?

I decided on the Lumberjack burger, and the combination of gruyere, portabello mushroom, red onion jam, garlic aoili, and cherrywood smoked bacon was sweet and savory and delicious. It came with a cup of soup, so I ordered the clam chowder and was thrilled with the amount of clams and the creaminess of the soup. Dessert was a pina colada cheesecake. All it was lacking was a little paper umbrella.

After lunch he showed me the private dining room and the kitchen. Michael sat down every Tuesday with the kitchen designer to plan the perfect kettle for his restaurant brew and the result is an efficiently designed space that belies the expectations of a diner kitchen. The whole restaurant is given that attention to detail. Once the weather warms up, their gigantic sidewalk space will be turned into an outdoor dining oasis, and the private dining room will even have its own al fresco extension.

In the beginning I mentioned that Nookies Edgewater reflects the other locations literally. They do that with the artwork adorning the walls. Michael and artist Lisa Bullard visited Nookies on Wells, Too and Tree when they were closed and she took photos of the chairs and booths. The light streaming in from the sidewalks created “weeds” of shadows on the floor. The resulting “In The Weeds” display seems to give each spot an elegance that’s hidden during the bustle of the brunch rush.

For now the restaurant is BYOB, but in the next few weeks they’ll be getting their liquor license. I predict that this Nookies will become the staple in Edgewater that its counterparts are in their neighborhoods.

My only question is: when are they bringing one to my neighborhood?

Photo courtesy of Nookies


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