Do Chicago neighborhood restaurants get more solid than West Town Tavern? I’ve never had a bad meal/glass of vino at the Chicago Avenue restaurant, but for as many times as I’ve been to the place (it’s both a go-to date and visiting parental dinner spot), I have never experienced chef Susan Goss’ famous fried chicken. For two years the restaurant has offered a fried chicken dinner exclusively on Monday nights, a plate of heavenly crispiness that I had only heard about until last night. I luh-huv fried chicken and aforementioned parental units unfortunately raised us on KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken then baby!), but I’ve since redeemed my taste buds with Stanley’s version and even the awesome randomness that is Loncar Liquors (sadly pre-Elizabites), but West Town beats them all. A seasoned Miller’s Farm natural half-chicken arrives perfect tender and juicy, covered with a thick (but not mouth-scratching crispy) golden skin that doesn’t turn coat your fingers with grease. It’s all resting on a small pool of creamy wild mushroom gravy with thick mushrooms, just enough to get the robust yet creamy flavor but not overwhelming the plate. A scoop of ultra whipped garlic mashed potatoes sits next to a pile of sautéed Swiss chard. A soft and airy sweet buttermilk biscuit (Goss’ great-grandma’s recipe) is the icing on the cake, soft enough to melt in your mouth, but crispy enough of the outside to hold up to a good gravy-mopping, they were fantastic enough to deserve a permanent home in the bread basket. It sounds like it might all end up mixing together at the end, and it does to some degree, but in a good way. Like everything else at West Town Tavern, what’s on the plate is meant to be there, not too much or too little and just the right portion and texture balance.
There’s no question that pretty much everyone in the place (packed!) was also ordering up the fried chicken, and it’s no wonder Goss offers the delicacy one night a week (what better way to guarantee a full house on a Monday?). As for pairings, I think the chicken dinner could easily hold up to a sparkling white, but I went with the Gruner Veltliner with fruity and white pepper notes that tied everything together. By the end we felt full, but not full of super greasy fried chicken buckets of the past, so we found room to order a simple and fresh rhubarb and strawberry tart with vanilla ice cream (yum), as well as homemade brownie with two scoops of homemade ice cream of our choice (mint chocolate chip)..(double yum). West Town Tavern, 1329 W. Chicago Ave., 312.666.6175