Tiny Alcove big on comfort
A panini with smoked ham, aged cheddar and poached pears is on the small menu at The Alcove. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
512 Main St., Evanston
4-11 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
Live music is performed Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings.
Updated: January 16, 2013 11:48AM
Maneuvering in 400 square feet adds new meaning to knowing your way around the kitchen.
With a few tours in the restaurant business under his belt, Evanston resident Scott Bradley envisioned a bistro at 512 Main St. Following six months of construction, the conversion from a dress shop to café was complete.
Open since mid-July, The Alcove has become a comfortable neighborhood spot with distinct character. And with just three tables and seating for four at the bar, it’s intimate by any definition.
“You end up talking to the person next to you,” Bradley explained.
A light menu has enough to satisfy for a full dinner or late lunch. In place of a stove, a commercial scale panini grill warms a series of sandwiches which come with a house salad. Pumpkin, cranberry and other pies are award-winning quality. Everything is made from scratch, including the soups.
Several varieties of red and white house wines are available while there is one rotating beer on tap.
During the summer months, the four outdoor tables were filled, with a few four-legged companions tagging along. Proximity to the CTA and Metra lines and Main Street Newsstand adds to foot traffic that comes through.
Nicole Gonzalez, who lives three blocks west, drops in with friends or by herself.
“There’s no place like this,” said Gonzalez. “It seems like it’s always been here. The bar is great. I like the Manhattans, the Tom Collins and red wines. Sometimes I’ll see people I know and stop in.”
A two-block commute makes The Alcove an ideal respite for Ben Frommer.
“There’s a nice European-flair here,” he said. “I usually have a beer or a scotch. Everything tastes great whether it’s the sandwiches or the pies. I come in after dinner once or twice a week. It’s nice to be able to walk home after a couple of drinks.”
Evanston resident Rod Radjenovich drops in often. “This is a place that’s transported out of time,” he said. “There’s interaction between human beings. It’s eclectic. It’s a new concept. It’s more than just a restaurant, it’s transcended the neighborhood. There’s nobody talking on their cell phone, there’s no television.
“I’ll make a pit stop after work and have a glass of wine and then come back later in the evening. You see people you know and meet new ones. Where else can you get a dinner and glass of wine for $15?”