outdoor dining in the rush street district, tastefully decorated with flowers

Restaurant Review: Lincoln Park’s Matisse Tavern and Grill a picture-perfect setting for summer dining

outdoor dining in the rush street district, tastefully decorated with flowers

Lakeview’sMatisse Tavern and Grill sounds like it should be a painting in an art museum, and in many ways, it is.

For a summer night, it’s a perfect spot to take the family for fresh, imaginative, epicurean meals, while dining in an Instagram-ready, picturesque outdoor patio, on cozy tables with room for your favorite pooch. It’s also great for late-night after a show or concert. 

As their website mentions, you can “Relax with friends all summer long on the outdoor patio with a copper mug of our famous Moscow Mule or a Cold Craft Beer.” 

Start your meal with CUBAN SPICED WON-TONS, which pairs braised pork and avocado cream in a crispy won-ton wrapper, topped with house made champagne feta sauce. Or, try STUFFED MEDJOOL DATES, which is goat cheese-stuffed medjool dates wrapped in bacon, with house made piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Their shareable HUMMUS PLATTER has house-made Mediterranean hummus topped with a lemon pepper garlic sauce, and served with celery, carrots, red peppers and warm pita bread. 

For lighter appetites, don’t miss their ROASTED PEAR SALAD, which is roasted pears over mesclun greens with goat cheese, caramel walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette. HANGER STEAK SALAD isa blackened hanger steak over mixed greens, bottom mushrooms, red peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, blue cheese crumble and ranch dressing. Hearty and yummy! WARM BEET SALAD is popular and healthy, with roasted red and golden beets in olive oil with sautéed spinach, asparagus and red pepper flakes, topped with goat cheese.

They are extremely proud of their creatively named half-pound, grass-fed burgers. They are served on your choice of ciabatta, multigrain roll, wrap or panini style. For an upcharge, you can choose a pretzel bun or pretzel roll. Burgers are served with your choice of side salad, fresh cut fries, homemade garlic mashed potatoes or fresh cut sweet potatoes fries. For example, TROPICAL FIRE is Monterey Jack cheese with caramelized thick cut bacon, mango habanero sauce, and crispy onions. SWEET PRECISION AND SOFT COLISION is smothered in chipotle aioli, topped with fresh pears flambéed with cognac, goat cheese and candied walnuts. I’ve never seen a burger like this in Chicago!

For a different take on a classic, try Matisse’s SALMON BLT, baked salmon on sour dough with lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and homemade tartar sauce, or the SWEET PEAR AND CHICKEN, which pairs grilled chicken with sweet pears, Monterey Jack cheese, candied walnuts & chipotle aioli. “Perfect as a Panini,” they say.

Their entrees include an unusual (and affordable) SURF AND TURF, mixing pan-seared French cut lamb chops and tiger shrimp with guajillo sauce served with sautéed red skins potatoes and asparagus-garlic butter sauce.  I’m down for THE DEVIL’S CHICKEN, an all-natural chicken breast with black olives, capers, spicy tomato, white wine and garlic served with rosemary roasted potatoes. For hearty fare, try the unusually named TRUFFLE THICKTRUFFLE THICK BACON PASTA, which isFarfalle pasta with cherrywood smoked bacon in a homemade alfredo sauce with fresh green peas, parmesan cheese and topped with white truffle oil.

As we say here when appropriate, “Save room for dessert!” MANGO CRÈME BRULEE isa mango and passion fruit custard with caramelized sugar, fruits, biscuit crumble and gelato. BOURBON PECAN BREAD PUDDING is a praline pecan bread pudding, with vanilla bean gelato in a caramel bourbon sauce. CRAZY CHEESECAKE has a golden graham cracker crust, cheesecake topped with chocolate and caramel sauce, and is served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

Matisse Tavern and Grill is located at 674 W. Diversey Parkway. They are open Monday-Thursday, 4pm–2am, Friday and Sunday from 12pm-2am, and Saturday from 12pm-3am. The kitchen closes at midnight daily. For reservations, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago