Mystery Diner
September 4, 2013 • 03:04:10 p.m.

Mystery Diner: Neat Kitchen + Bar brings big city feel to western suburbs

By MYSTERY DINER - msleditorial@shawmedia.com

Neat Kitchen + Bar in the heart of downtown Westmont is a new destination for dining and libations. (Suburban Life Media photo)

Neat Kitchen + Bar

WHERE: 246 N. Cass Ave., Westmont

HOURS: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday

DRESS CODE: Casual

INFO: 630-568-8688, neatkitchenandbar.com

From its contemporary menu to a modern industrial interior, Neat Kitchen + Bar brings a refreshing urban vibe to the western suburbs. The Westmont destination exudes the up-to-date style of many of the bar-restaurant tandems you'd find in Chicago's Lincoln Park, West Loop or Old Town neighborhoods, minus the long commute on the Eisenhower.

A colleague and I recently had lunch at the bar and grill, situated along Cass Avenue in the heart of the village.

Neat Kitchen + Bar opened in July, and is co-owned by Jason Van Lente of Westmont. Collectively, he and his two partners have more than 50 years of experience in the restaurant and bar industry. And their expertise is evident the moment you enter the attractive space.

The open design goes industrial chic with high ceilings and visible air ducts. The tables are constructed of reclaimed wood, complemented by the dim glow of candles inside vintage mason jars. A bar nicely tucked at the rear of the restaurant is expansive yet cozy, replete with a flat-screen. And thoughtful attention has been paid to the wine list and craft beer offerings, including seven on draft.

Adding to the modern sensibility are courtesy cellphone chargers for patrons sitting at the bar.

Yet trumping the inviting amenities, the Neat Kitchen + Bar's menu and fare are what really come out on top.

A perfect introduction was the Pork Wings appetizer. The five generously sized "wings" were doused in Asian chili and spicy sriracha lime sauce. It was an interesting, different menu item that paid off. The hint of lime on the pork gives it the perfect mix of sour and spicy. The Pork Wings are a must-try.

For our meals, my colleague opted for chicken, while I chose a beef option with a twist.

He had what's simply dubbed the "Chicken and Apple" sandwich, but it was hardly simple. The tender chicken breast is topped with sliced Granny Smith apples, Muenster cheese and chipotle aioli, served as panini. He said its smoky flavor was accented perfectly by the aioli, while the fresh, tangy apples made for an interesting contrast.

The concoction – one of a half dozen sandwich options on the menu – included fries and was well priced.

I opted for the 10-ounce burger, a combo of ground chuck, short rib and brisket. Unlike other takes on the trio, the three meats are blended together into a burger as opposed to the latter two being piled on top of the patty. That was a nice touch for the generously portioned dish.

Neat Kitchen + Bar's menu is divvied up into five sections: Starters, Salads, Sandwiches, Main Dinners and Sides.

Other starters include Green Chili, a Grilled Asparagus dish and three-per-order tacos with a variety of tempting fillings. And among the sandwich choices are the Kofta: spiced ground beef with a tomato cucumber salad and yogurt lime sauce, and the 5 Spice Pork.

Studying the menu with an eye to a return visit, we made note of main entrees for dinner, such as the 1/2 Chicken with cherry tomato salad and grilled broccolini; Salmon; Skirt Steak; and Rigatoni with Italian sausage, fennel, pancetta and tomato cream.

The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.

(To view the Mystery Diner's photos taken at Neat Kitchen + Bar, go to http://shawurl.com/r87; visit its website at neatkitchenandbar.com.)


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