How could someone not be immediately charmed by Found? As soon as you’re through the door, you know they haven’t pulled any punches. It’s a delightfully curated hodgepodge of comfortable parlor room design elements. People lounge in high backed armchairs gathered around a parlor end table, at love seat sofas behind coffee tables, and in sparkling, plastic-cushioned 50s kitchen chairs. An exposed brick wall displays antique framed photos. The bar is bedecked with heavy wood shelves and there are tall folding chairs as barstools. Tunes like “Thank Heaven For Little Girls” and “In the Mood” drift out over the sound system while Dr. Strangelove plays on a wood framed flat-screen behind the bar.
During our visit, their cocktail menu was themed after beat poet Jack Kerouac, so we started with a named for events from Kerouac’s novel On the Road. Over the bar was a chalkboard overhang covered in Kerouac quotes in a variety of brightly-colored, stylish, hand-rendered fonts. The Kerouac quotes replaced quotes from a variety of authors last month, and when next month’s cocktail list is developed, a new batch of quotes will arrive. I mean, come on. This place was dipped in cool atmosphere and never shaken off.
We started with a cheese board, selecting three of the five cheeses offered based on the in-depth descriptions provided by our affable waiter, Todd. They arrive a top a cutting board amidst a smattering of pistachios, sultanas, apricots, cranberries, and a dollop of delicious grape thyme jam. The Garretts Ferry sheep’s milk cheese is rustic, warm, and half-melted, perfect for spreading across the provided slices of fresh bread from Hewn bakery right down the road; the Willi’s Cheddar is bright and sharp with the nutty, crystallized quality of premium sharp cheddar; and the Good Thunder is strong and smoky with the creamy texture of good brie.
Moving onto the Plates portion of the menu, we’d recommend experiencing Found tapas-style, and order three or four dishes for sharing instead of treating them as individual entrees. Chef Nicole Pederson emphasizes seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, aiming to get as much of the menu as possible from within 100 miles of her kitchen.
The Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted Beet Salad is beautifully presented with a sweet beet puree in walnut oil under the bed of roasted beets. Pillowy, fresh mozzarella is draped across the plate topped with candied walnuts. Between the flavors in the root vegetables, the cheese, and the nuts, it’s an excellent experience in sweet and salty, and it’s a wonderful, light dish for the summer days that will soon be upon us.
The Lamb Meat Balls come in a little cauldron, sitting in a base of yogurt with a sprinkling of pistachio chimichurri over the top. This dish is a favorite of regulars, and one taste will tell you why. Densely flavored with a slow, sneaking spice, the hearty meat balls combine lamb with a touch of pork for richness and are perfectly accented by cucumber creaminess in the yogurt and the herbaceous tang of the chimichurri mixture.
The Wood Oven Roasted Pork Chop was a little larger than the other dishes and it’s swimming in delectable Latin flavors. The sliced pork is mouthwateringly juicy and sits atop a bed of luscious mole sauce, roasted onions, firm black beans, and housemade chorizo sausage. Each ingredient combines a precise forkful of southwest flavor, accented with a cilantro bite and the delicacy of the mole sauce. Pickled onion slices add a nice acidic bent to the dish, and two pork ribs on the bone are a nice accent to the visual interest of the plate and succulent bite. Excellent.
For dessert, we had the Chocolate Stout Cake topped with a prune compote, cognac, and served with Dulce de Leche Gelato. Both the cake and the gelato have a refined decadence, delivering rich flavor without being puckeringly oversweet. The stout adds an unexpected dimension to the chocolate cake, adding that ‘Found’ flare. If you want to really lean into the sumptuous flavors follow each bite with a cinnamon topped sip from a cappuccino.
Between the whimsical décor, the fantastic flavors, and the friendly staff, Found is a must Evanston hotspot. It was hopping even on a Wednesday night. It’s the kind of space that fosters conversation and keeps you talking about it long after you walk out the door.
Found is located at 1631 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, 847-868-8945, foundkitchen.com.
Found’s spectacular approach to presentation extends to its cocktail menu as well. As an example, we tried one of their special Kerouac cocktails and one of their classic stand-bys.
Sal and Dean in Mexico
Menu description: Tequila and Elderflower chilled and served up, the last big party they had together; laidback cops, landscapes…and bordellos…..
This drink introduces itself with a sharp lemon bite, sweet to start, and resolves in a warm boozy finish, and a floral linger. Smooth.
A Clockwork Orange
Menu description: Bourbon, Rooibos syrup, and a dash of orange bitters. “Oh, bliss, bliss and heaven.”
A nicely fruity bourbon beverage with notes of oak, and a dry citrus finish courtesy of the bitters. Highly sippable and served in a charmingly decorative double old fashioned.
Found is located at 1631 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, 847-868-8945, foundkitchen.com