Somerset isn’t groundbreaking. It doesn’t have a “concept,” a gimmick, or some fusion combination we’ve never seen before. The theme here, as far as we can tell, is just that it serves really f*cking good food.
This restaurant is in the Gold Coast, right in the middle of what’s unfortunately known as the “Viagra Triangle” - which should be enough to tell you we don’t usually hang out here. And spacewise, it fits right in, with its tall ceilings, art deco light fixtures (including a huge chandelier dominating the front room), and generally expensive feel. The nautical touches throughout make you feel a little like you’re at a yacht club, or otherwise water-adjacent. But the ambience isn’t what makes this place different from other spots in the neighborhood. It’s the food that has quickly made this one of our favorite restaurants, not just in the area, but in the entire city.
Somerset doesn’t just have a few superstar dishes - everything on the American menu here is great. The smoked beet tartare, with yogurt and gouda cheese, is fantastic on its own, but comes with a housemade flatbread that takes it to another level. A charred broccoli side dish, with chicken cracklins and black garlic, is the kind of thing you might wake up in middle of the night and think about. And you really can’t go wrong with a pasta - the squid ink chitarra in particular has a sauce good enough to siphon off into a flask for later. At a time when it seems like every new place in Chicago is attempting unfocused “global small plates,” Somerset allows you to put together a meal that’s incredibly tasty and doesn’t feel forced. It just makes sense.
This is some of the absolute best food we’ve eaten in Chicago, and we’re confident you and anyone you go with will agree. Somerset serves food that is flavorful and universally appealing, and it really doesn’t need more of a gimmick than that.
This appetizer has beets that are are diced and smoked, then topped with a giant pile of gouda. It’s served with a spiced housemade flatbread, and is absolutely amazing.
Fish hushpuppies, basically. The malt vinegar aioli that comes with them is something we want a vat of.
There’s a lot of stuff going on here, but it works: crispy potato, slightly sweet pickled cucumber, and black sesame seeds all come together to make this a really refreshing appetizer.
Some salads exist only to be your “lighter option.” This is not one of those salads. It’s rich enough that it could be an entree on its own - with pecorino, roasted grapes, and cashews to complement the greens.
A seasonal dish that’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet. It has bitter greens, goat cheese, and a brown butter vinaigrette.
Another excellent use for Somerset’s flatbread. Here, it’s topped with pickled cauliflower, zucchini, and caciocavallo cheese. This should definitely be on your table.
We’d happily bathe in this sauce, and the squid ink chitarra noodles are just textured enough to stick to it.
Ribbed mini-gnocchi in a parmesan sauce, with wilted kale and tender duck leg meat. This is a very rich pasta, so consider doing a half order (you can get any pasta here in either a full or half size).
Try this even if you don’t like broccoli. It’s served with yogurt, almonds, and chicken skin, and pray they never take it off the menu.
This is seared, and cooked in a buttery sauce along with roasted mushrooms and pearl onions. Light and delicious.
If vension doesn’t appeal to you, we still submit this version, with pears, roasted sunchokes, and a huckleberry sauce, for your consideration. It tastes like a tenderloin sponsored by the fall season.
Grape ice cream layered with crunchy little meringues, moscato wine jelly, and fromage blanc cream. It’s certainly very grapey, but a nice and not-too-heavy way to end your meal.