Tempt me with crispy pig ears, duck fat fries and a few chilled glasses of rosé and I'd already tell you it was a date done right. But The Bristol, a restaurant in Chicago's Bucktown Neighborhood, ups the date night ante even further. With its exposed brick, leather banquettes and maple wood tables washed in a warm candlelit glow, the atmosphere at The Bristol proves both intimate and amiable, like the space was intentionally planned to maximize the likelihood of quality, playful conversation.
The American Gastropub-style menu featuring The Bristol's signatures, like the aforementioned duck fat fries ($9), half chicken ($24) and monkey bread with dill butter ($6), got an injection of energy from the recently appointed Executive Chef Todd Stein. It was Chef Stein who introduced the crispy, smokey, highly snackable pig ears ($9) and the endive and manchego salad ($12) that my partner Chris and I so enjoyed on our recent date. That particular evening we also devoured the beef tartare with cheddar-dusted chicharrones ($14) and the rich, velvety ricotta and farm egg filled raviolo ($15) before dunking house made nutter butters into chocolate and caramel crémeux ($8).
The Bristol's menu is built for sharing, and the small tables (perhaps intentionally) mean only a few items can be enjoyed simultaneously. This results in a steady wave of new dishes arriving from the kitchen to replace finished ones at a pleasant pace. The experience is expertly orchestrated by the warm, informed staff that somehow manages to be both ever-present yet never distracting.
Every aspect of The Bristol feels as if the proprietors have strategically crafted an experience that nearly guarantees a highly enjoyable shared meal. With all of these elements working to your advantage, if a date at The Bristol still doesn't go well, then perhaps you should be reevaluating the company you keep.
2152 N Damen Ave | Chicago, IL
(773) 862-5555 | thebristolchicago.com