This What I Love is a bit overdue. However, I assure you that finals and the nice weather — rather than a lack of enthusiasm about this restaurant — have distracted me from just sitting down and typing this up.
As I may have mentioned previously, I work in the Loop five days a week. That means five days a week I’m eating lunch (and occasionally dinner) in the Loop. Because of this, I spend a significant amount of time researching the best places to grab a bite during my lunch break.
The other day, PIF suggested we try Sepia. We’d passed it a million times before, but we’d never made it in. It happened to be a light work day for us both so we decided to meet there for lunch at 12:30.
After a few back and forths, we found the door and headed in. The space — a refurbished 1890s print shop — is both beautiful and cool. Every last detail has been planned to a T, including the bread “plates” that are wood planks with a carved out space for the butter knife.
We sat in the front bar space. Since it was a sunny day, I wanted to soak up the sunlight through the window. However, the back room is so gorgeous, I highly suggest visitors choose to sit back there if you can. The server brought us bread which was warm and shaped like a bare tree branch. We gobbled it up and ordered the cheese plate, sunchoke soup, pumpkin cappelletti, and potato gnocchi. All were amazing, but the sunchoke soup with charred sweet onions and apples was truly a standout.
The gnocchi was absolutely perfectly pillowy and the short rib ragu that accompanied it was deliciously rich and salty. The pumpkin cappalletti, which were more sweet and delicate, paired perfectly with its heavier counterpart. All of the cheeses were unique and interesting, but it was the one dish we could have done without had I not been craving cheese so badly. We finished our meal by sharing their cookies, which are made fresh every morning. I’m not even a peanut butter fan, and yet my favorite one was their peanut butter and jelly-esque bar.
PIF and I both agreed it was one of the best lunches we have ever had. In fact, PIF ended up going back later that week for their Happy Hour, which he reported was amazing as well. Amid the repetitive and half-assed lunches that litter the Loop, Sepia is fresh, thoughtful, and delicious.
West Loop, Chicago
Best for: Business lunch, lunch with parents, when you can take a longer lunch break, Happy Hour, dinner dates*
$$ to $$$, depending. For lunch, you can get away with appetizers.
*Based on our intuition and to be tested soon