Giant – Small Portions, Big Flavors

on Sep16

15 September 2017 | 8:11 pm

Giant – Small Portions, Big Flavors

When I heard that “Bon Appetit” had rated a restaurant down the street from my house one of the “Top 10 Hot New Restaurants in the Country,” I knew it was only a matter of time before I went to visit. Giant is an ironic name for the restaurant given the small size of the interior and the on the smaller side food portions. Perhaps the name comes from the giant flavors packed into those small dishes.

When you walk into Giant it’s a very narrow restaurant utilizing every inch of the space for seating along the sides. There’s a very intricate wood-paneling design to one side and on the other a traditional brick wall painted in a fresh coat of white paint. The plush seating and bright colors make everything about Giant scream “cool.” Follow the narrow alleyway past the kitchen and there’s an adorable, quaint yet comfortable outdoor patio. I’m not certain the amount of people the patio can seat, but it felt like the same size, maybe just a hair smaller than the indoor seating area. From the glow of the string lights to the cool breeze again, everything about this place screamed, “cool.” Perhaps it’s because it was recently voted by Bon Appétit magazine one of the top 10 restaurants in the country and we were all just jumping on the bandwagon. Who knows? What I do know is my experience here was absolutely memorable.

My first thought after being seated aside from, “this playlist is great” was that our server was very kind, mellow and had an extremely relaxed vibe. Whereas sometimes servers can be “too much,” our server was completely mellow and was very knowledgeable about the complicated-to-the-untrained eye menu. The first thing I learned was that the menu is designed in a sort of unique way in which the lighter menu options start at the top and as you continue down the menu they get more hearty and end in what some may consider entrée sizes. Our server recommended sharing between four to six plates to offer variety and to get a full serving. So Giant offers not quite a tapas style, but similar to the small plate, sharing style famous in Spain.

Our first small dish to come out was the biscuit with jalapeño butter. A single buttery, flakey biscuit that could just melt in your mouth it was so soft and good. The jalapeño butter had a major kick to it and to be honest had a little too much kick to it for my taste. The biscuit itself, however, was superb. Out next were the incredible onion rings. You think you’ve had onion rings? Well, you’ve never truly experienced all an onion ring can be until you’ve had the onion rings at Giant. Incredibly thin and crispy, they weren’t heavily battered, but the crunch and flavor was out of this world. Not to mention the chili salt and Parmesan cheese sprinkled over top, which elevated all of the flavors to the next level. Then our final “appetizer” arrived which was a sweet and sour eggplant dish. Oh my goodness! Words don’t do justice to the incredible texture and flavor these eggplants punched. The dish had cashews and pancetta which didn’t make it a 100% veggie dish, but my goodness did the eggplant eggplant trick me into thinking it was some type of meat. The heartiness and bold flavors the vegetable had made me rethink eggplant for life. I’m not 100 percent sure what was in the sauce, but the bold complex flavors of both sweet and sour sent my taste buds on a rollercoaster of emotions. Not to mention the potato pancakes that accompanied the dish! Are you kidding me? So thick and flavorful this app-style entrée was quite hearty at the heart of it all.

Out next were our two main dishes, the tomato sortallini and the snapper. The sortallini was a perfect Italian blend of thick tomato-based sauce with something I’d never heard of before, guanciale. Guanciale is Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl and was seasoned just perfectly giving the dish a nice peppery balance to the creamy tomato sauce.   Add in some basil and a side of fresh sourdough bread they bake in house to soak up all the yummy sauce and you have yourself a meal. The other main course was the snapper with peas, almonds and bacon. They’re doing it sortallini right with the flavor balancing the salt and sweet foods to get just the right combo. It’s no wonder they’re one of the best new restaurants in the country. Everything about the meal, restaurant and atmosphere was perfect.

As I finished my meal and looked around I noticed nearly everyone seated in the outdoor space were pairs more than likely on a date. I could see this spot being an impressive date location. It proves you have good taste, you’re hip and you’re not scared to spend a little extra for quality. Giant’s not the most-expensive restaurant I’ve ever been to (see last week’s review on Maple & Ash), but it’s definitely above the standard money I usually spend on dinner. Trust me though, it’s worth the splurge.

The beauty about this place was that because the tables were so close together, I ended up having multiple conversations with other guests around me. I don’t know if it’s just my personality, but it was nice to see that although the restaurant is of a certain caliber, the people that dine there aren’t super uppity. (I think Logan Square’s to thank for that.) Overall, I would highly recommend paying this amazing neighborhood gem a visit. Its ability to elevate foods I’ve loved for years into something even greater than I ever could have imagined is worth the visit alone. Giant is a perfect place for people trying to get out of their comfort zone and have a million “wow!” moments. Yes, the portions are on the smaller side and the prices on the larger side, but again trust me here. You’re paying for the flavor, not the portion size. You’ll be surprised how filling that eggplant can truly be.

 



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