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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, April 24

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Restaurant Thu Jan 31 2008

A Good Place for Conversation

Review by GB contributor Marla Seidell

A serene and mellow atmosphere, the humming murmur of conversation intermingled with soothing indie folk rock playing in the background, this could only be one place — the new Uncommon Ground in Edgewater.

Located at the corner of Devon and Glenwood, the new Uncommon Ground finds itself in the same corner as an ominously blinking police light. Apparently, owners Michael and Helen Cameron aren't deterred by the reputation of crime in the area. Although it was a Monday evening, the place was far from empty; by 8pm it was buzzing with patrons. Hip but casual, this is not a place to see and be seen, as the d├ęcor and design — mostly squares and rectangles, exposed brick, luxuriously long leather booths, and earth artwork (nature scenes in wooden frames) is far more interesting to look at than what people are wearing or doing.

The key at Uncommon Ground is cozy. My boyfriend and I were seated right next to a blazing fire; on an evening of blistering winds and rain this was startlingly appropriate. Candles burned brightly on the wooden tabletops all around us. Uncommon Ground is a good place for a conversation with an old friend, or a gathering of pals. I wouldn't say it's necessarily romantic, but socially inviting, yes. The demographic was varied, reflecting the diversity of the neighborhood: a few students, thirtysomethings, gay couples, even two cops on a break were enjoying the laid-back atmosphere.

In regards to the food there were some definite highs and disappointing lows. The scallops I tasted were succulent and, well, appetizing. To wash it down I was drinking Lakefront organic ESB — an excellent choice as the beer is light and smooth. The special pizza I ordered turned out to be more of a flatbread, which at first I was happy about. A few bites later and I was removing most of the olives, as in combination with the feta cheese the pizza was overly salty. Although the crust was flaky and buttery as a whole, it failed to satisfy. The veggie burger I tasted was mealy, and the bread, disappointingly, was boxy, dry and chewy.

While the second course was pretty dull, I'll admit that it was a good time to catch up on conversation. I could see through the grate of the fireplace two girls on the other side, sipping beer and chatting. Soaking up the warmth and elegant ambience, I realized it was a Chicago moment — the beauty of a cold night noted and appreciated.

The dessert I tasted (the signature Maud's organic chocolate cake with Bad Dog pumpkin gelato) made up for the pitfalls of the main course. Now I could understand all the fuss about the restaurant's locally produced items. The cake was moist yet dry enough so as not be overwhelming, and the gelato was lusciously thick, with subtle yet perfectly balanced pumpkin flavor.

A second visit is definitely in order — I'll count on the appetizers, signature desserts and the yummy beers, and be sure to have a good conversationalist in tow again.

Please note that this meal was provided as a courtesy to the Gapers Block writer.

Photo by sierraromeo /Sarah-Ji.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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