While we’re shooting photos at Endgrain, 1851 W. Addison, the door rings at least four times with someone wanting to know if they’re open yet. "On a nice day, we might get 20," co-chef-owner Enoch Simpson says. You might suggest they simply put a sign on the door, but meeting your neighbors is something you want to do in cozy, insular Roscoe Village… especially when you’re still waiting for your liquor license. That’s the last of many hurdles, though, and Endgrain, a restaurant that started at the beginning of another restaurant when Simpson knocked out some doughnuts for Nightwood’s first brunch, should be open by the beginning of June if not sooner. For now we’ve got a preview of some dishes, and the menus (still subject to change, but close), and we spoke with Enoch and his brother Caleb about how they got here. Check it all out below.
It all started at Nightwood. Enoch, who had been with that restaurant since its opening, came up with a couple of doughnuts when they started serving brunch not long after, and the doughnuts became instant hits in what would soon prove to be a doughnut-crazy town. After a year he moved on to Girl & the Goat but kept making doughnuts for the occasional staff snack, and then decided to start making "Enoch’s Doughnuts" for markets and food gatherings. By that time doughnuts were a Thing, and people kept asking when he was going to open his doughnut shop.
That was the plan at first, "until I thought about using my other skills and realized how incredibly boring it would be to make doughnuts all day," Enoch says. At the same time he was trying to lure his brother Caleb to Chicago from Columbia, Missouri. Caleb didn’t have foodservice experience, but he had something else that would be handy in opening your own restaurant: construction experience.
So Enoch taught Caleb to make doughnuts, and Caleb taught construction to Enoch by building out the former Terragusto space at Addison near the Brown Line stop. Enoch points to the bar, made of ends of salvaged lumber, and says "I stupidly thought you could just cut these and they’d all fit together. We had to trim every single one to get it this tight." (A piece of crafty art work on one wall shows what the end grain pieces looked like before they were fitted and sanded to a smooth bar surface.) The decor includes many farm to table, reclaimed stuff touches; light fixtures aremade from old tree waterers, and the plan is to use cattle ear tags as coat checks. (The Simpson brothers didn’t exactly grow up on a farm, but they’ve spent time on them, including in Central America, and the aesthetic of beatup old farm stuff is all over the restaurant.)
Endgrain will open at 7 a.m. with doughnuts and coffee… just in time to take onto the CTA. The doughnuts will last till they run out, which Enoch hopes will be around 2:00 p.m.— but no one knows yet. A brunch menu from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a dinner menu from 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. will run concurrently with an all day menu from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Even if doughnuts are gone when you get there, though, don’t despair— to make full use of the prep area in the basement, Enoch decided to learn how to make biscuits, and the ones we tried with two of the sandwiches are crazy good.
Check out a few of the dishes and the menus below.