Lincoln Square's Gideon Welles gets bar food right | Bleader

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lincoln Square's Gideon Welles gets bar food right

Posted By on 11.14.14 at 08:15 AM

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Artistic renderings of the stern-looking Gideon Welles, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, decorate the walls and menus at Gideon Welles Craft Beer Bar and Kitchen. The space looks much like it did when it was occupied by 42 Degrees North Latitude: heavy wood high-top tables, brick walls, flat-screen TVs—your basic neighborhood bar, especially when a football game is blaring from the televisions. The 16-tap beer list and well-executed food, though, provide an incentive for those of us who aren't sports fans to brave the place.

Ahi tuna wontons
The menu offers classic bar food—wings, nachos, burgers, sandwiches—with a focus on comfort food and several slightly more upscale items like bruschetta, crab cakes, and a crispy goat cheese appetizer. Given the atmosphere I wasn't expecting much from ahi tuna wontons, but they turned out to be one of my favorite dishes: the raw tuna was fresh and nicely complemented by creamy avocado, sweet yuzu juice, and spicy bits of Serrano pepper. My only complaint was that the yuzu made some of the fried circles of wonton wrapper (the vehicle for the tuna) soggy.

Sweet and tangy pulled pork sliders with house-made pickles proved equally successful, and the burger—a proprietary blend of ground ribeye and brisket—was juicy and flavorful. At half a pound it's a better deal than the little sliders (the burger also comes with fries), but it has one disadvantage: the burger's juices quickly disintegrated the fluffy brioche bun. Add in the option to substitute a more substantial pretzel bun, though, and it would be pretty near perfect.

Creme brulee
The fish and chips entree suggests that the chefs have mastered the fryer: moist fish pieces in jackets of crisp fried batter are accompanied by crispy, almost crunchy fries. Still, I wish that they'd held back on frying with the shrimp tacos. While the shrimp was tender, if it hadn't been battered and fried it might not have weighed down the already greasy tacos, which seemed to have been panfried. All was forgiven, though, when I shattered the sugar crust of the rich, creamy creme brulee and took my first taste. Like many of the other items, it's not something I'd expect to find on a bar menu—but I'm glad it's there.

Gideon Welles, 4500 N. Lincoln, 773-907-2226,

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