Uncommon Ground Opens in Rogers Park

Dining Room


Having watched Uncommon Ground  “grow up,” at their Clark Street location in Wrigleyville from small coffee shop to a three-room restaurant with an eclectic menu and acoustic music—we, Steve and Jackie, were more than excited to experience their new location at 1401 W. Devon in Rogers Park where we attended a media party celebrating the new Uncommon Ground’s Grand Opening.

We drove up to their new location, and noticed the large windows and welcoming exterior.  A soft white neon sign is on the street side, and above the entrance with their logo:” Eat, Drink, Look, Listen”. When we walked in from a cold, wet winter evening, we were immediately cheered by the warm and comfortable decor. The bar area, dining room and music room are all large and use natural materials such as exposed brick, tables made from reclaimed wood, and leather-backed booths.  Candles on the tables, fireplaces in both the living room and bar areas, and photos on the walls were displayed in reclaimed wood frames created a relaxed feeling.

Music Room


We were welcomed into the music area, where owners Michael and Helen Cameron continue their commitment to the Chicago music scene.  Mike handles the music side of the business, while Helen’s passion is cooking. Steve, who has worked with many musicians and clubs, thought the new music room fit nicely with the style of the rest of the restaurant, and, particularly liked how the logo seems to float in the air behind the performing space. According to David Chavez, the music director, it is “equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system designed by the highly respected sound designer Jonathan P. Laney, who also designed the sound environment at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.”  While the Clark Street location has been the locale for artists at the earliest stages of their career, the Devon stage will be an expanded venue, showcasing performers making a name in the music industry, and also feature more “world” music, such as Brazilian nights, and an African music series that will highlight African culture.

Helen and Michael Cameron


We had a chance to talk with Helen and Michael, and in addition to providing a venue for aspiring musicians; they are involved in the community in many other ways. Uncommon Ground has always been on the cutting edge of environmental responsibility.  Since opening their first restaurant, they have used organic produce whenever possible, and buy locally produced goods.  Because they own the new building, they were able to make many other environmentally friendly enhancements. There are solar panels on the roof, and the reclaimed wood used to make the tables was taken from Jackson Park.  They plan to recycle as much as possible. Future plans include a rooftop garden that will provide ingredients for both restaurants, and there are plans to collaborate with organizations such as Growing Connection, Organic Gardener, Growing Power and Seedling Farm to develop educational programs for school children.

The food, according to Helen, will be similar to the original restaurant. The menu features American comfort cuisine with uncommon twists by executive chef Brian Millman (Think, Everest Room) who now runs both kitchens, with sous chef Matt Ronan handling day-to-day kitchen operations on Clark Street.

Farm Tart Cherry Preserves,Capriole Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, Garlic Crostini


Signature dishes include espresso and cocoa nib-rubbed American Buffalo Rib-eye with hand Yukon Gold Potatoes and Onion Marmalade, Brown Sugar and Bourbon Glazed Bone-in Pork Chop, Boursin Stuffed Roast Amish Chicken, Pistachio-crusted Tilapia, and Pumpkin Ravioli. All portions come with a range of delicious side dishes. Signature desserts include creations by local pastry chefs Nancy Depondt (Maude’s Organic Chocolate Cake) and Jessica Oloroso (Black Dog Gelato).


We tasted a variety of appetizers, both savory and sweet, and they were all delicious. Many were mini takes on their meals. The Espresso & Cocoa nib rubbed Buffalo Rib-eye with sweet onion marmalade, for example, was served on a single potato chip.  Likewise, the Apple Cider Braised Heartland Meat Oxtail, Celery Root Puree, Candied Lemon Zest, Thyme, Apples, and Profiterole seemed a tiny version of a menu staple.  Both were amazing, like condensing the flavors of a full meal into one bite. While these two were our favorites, the other appetizers: a tiny hummus plate, crispy halibut, and cherry preserves with goat cheese were also wonderful.  The drink menu is extensive, and features a tree-tini : for every tree-tini you order, Uncommon Ground will plant a tree.

We hope to return soon to enjoy the delights of this new restaurant.

Uncommon Ground
1401 W. Devon (near Loyola University)
Phone: 773-465-9801

Photos: Troy Burt

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