Of all the 77 neighborhoods that compose Chicago there is but one that teams with a raw hipster energy. A mustached heartbeat that pounds from a dangerous ride and fair trade coffee, swerving around gaping potholes from last year’s winter on a bicycle with just one gear. That neighborhood is Logan Square, where the most exciting restaurants in the entire city can be found and instagrammed. Sure – there’s the Michelin star crowd clustered around Halstead Street, and the grand restaurants of Grand Ave in River North, but for me all the real excitement is centered further west.
Logan Square is named for General John A. Logan, whose giant handlebar mustache is arguably one of the greatest in American History, and whose earliest political achievement was baring all African Americans from settling in Illinois in 1853. Yet flash forward to modern times and hipsters of all shades and sized ear gages have inundated the grimy streets of Logan Square. For me, the best thing about dining in Logan Square is the value; while often times the quality is a solid B+, I’m happy to pay 30% less than I would in NYC or LA for the exact same fare (hello, $8 dollar cocktails!).
Longman and Eagle is one of the stars of the Logan Square dining scene. Part of the name i’m guessing comes from Evelyn Beatrice Longman, the first female sculptor named to the National Academy of Design. The wait for brunch here, as mentioned in Chicago Mag’s review of the brunch revamp (I visited before this menu change occurred) can be suspicious and true, the service was most inattentive. I felt like I was dining in Venice Beach at times, where one can be downright ignored.
One of the things I thoroughly loved was the Bloody Mary – great depth of flavor ( I got mine with tequila) and no excessive garnishes. The tradition of a shot of beer alongside the drink is a stroke of genius. I opted for a locally brewed Ale, as there are quite a few breweries in this region. Chicago is a Beer town – the list of cider and beer at Longman was one of the most impressive i’ve seen outside NYC and San Diego. The cider list here is likely the best anywhere.
Two things Hipsters love are Whiskey and Brunch (Logan Square is home to 2 of the top Ten in a recent list done by Zagat) and Longman and Eagle has both in spades, featuring over 300 selections.
The design of the restaurant is elegant and rustic as to be expected; Edison bulbs, wooden accents, and exposed everything. The cooking at Longman is solid, though my largest complaint was that it was a bit insecure – I often noticed hints of truffle oil where they did not need to be, or the topping of most plates with an egg – obscuring delicate flavors. Upon my visit I noticed the expo hold plates in window so that they might arrive in concert. On my visit, the Expo didn’t have any heat lamps, and the temperature of the dishes reflected that upon their arrival at the table.
Overall though as mentioned previously, solid cooking. I wasn’t disappointed with anything that arrived at the table. If you are lucky enough to get a table, this is a great one. If the wait is too long, there are plenty of other options nearby. Just stow your copy of Bukowski in your distressed leather satchel, hop on your bike, wax your stache, and pedal around the square. Bowler hat optional.