Neighborhood: Wicker Park
- Drunken Vegetarian
- Ice Sage
- Smoked Mushrooms
- Shrimp Risotto
Machine, Wicker Park Review
Raise your hand if you’ve seen that story on Instagram from your favorite micro-influencer using a mini hammer on top of a peculiar drink and watching the crispy topping collapse seamlessly into the drink. Yes, that’s the place I am talking about here, Machine. The new dual flower shop/bar/restaurant that sounds uncomfortably pretentious and superficial, yet somehow lives up to all of the fluff. It’s not stuffy nor pretentious, but it is dimly lit with those kinds of people (Wicker Park is the new River North). Don’t let that deter you though.
Machine has so many innovative cocktails with interesting and fun food pairings. I tried the Drunken Vegetarian which was basically a Bloody Mary with green chili, vodka, and tomato water. It was very savory and refreshing and it came with a crispy, circular piece of Parmesan on the top. The Parmesan crisp was of course delightful to consume while dipping it in the drink. I also tried the famous cocktail with the micro-hammer.
The Ice Sage has fortified wines, botanicals, and topped with an aesthetically pleasing honeyed blackberry/sage ice that is fulfilling to crack in the way creme brûlée is fulfilling to crack. It also tastes quite herbaceous and is not just all show.
Their food stole the show as well. Another small plates place – but they were oh so tasty. Do I recommend this place to vegans? No. Vegetarians and pescatarians, yes. I adored their Smoked Mushrooms (without the chicken skin of course), which had Parmesan, puffed wild rice and chestnut crumbs adding a nice crunchy texture on top.
I love pasta so I had to try their Bucatini. Their Bucatini is satisfying with crispy kale on top adding a crunchy texture and mixed with earthy shiitake mushrooms with creamy egg whites. I especially loved the mushrooms because I adore umami and you can’t go wrong with shiitake mushrooms. The least exciting dish was the shrimp risotto with spinach, kaffir lime, and furikake (dry Japanese seasoning). It was not bad but it could have been flavored more intensely. The service was a bit awkward, but still decent and they were quite helpful with suggestions as the cocktail menu can be overwhelming at first.
While Machine is pricey, it is not just one of those instagrammable places without substance. Their drinks are fascinating, their plates are tasty and provide you those carbs to soak up their fancy cocktails. So go ahead and give Machine a try because you are bound to at least like one of their eclectic concoctions.
– Check out my bar reviews for more cocktail options.