There is a communal feel inside the compact dining room at the ironically named Giant, named from a poem by Shel Silverstein. The goal of this Logan Square restaurant is to get guests to sample as much as possible.
"We want people to be able to share a lot of things or to try a lot of things so the portion sizes are smaller and priced appropriately for that," said Jason Vincent, the restaurant's co-chef and co-owner.
Vincent offers a few excellent pasta dishes, including a tortellini with smoked tomato butter.
"We fill it with stravecchio 20-month Wisconsin parmesan," he said.
His sweet-and-sour eggplant is good enough on its own, but Vincent adds a number of crunchy elements - like cashews, wild rice and green coriander - then serves it with two homemade pitas literally pulled right off the griddle.
All of the bread is made on-site, baked fresh, its crust a perfect crispy shell for the dense interior crumb. And then there are waffle fries, made painstakingly by Vincent's business partner, Ben Lustbader, who pipes them out himself, drops the pan several times to get out air pockets and combine the layers; freezes them, fries them, and finally, plates them with jonah crab and a bit of a Chilean chili powder called merken.
"Now we have these waffle fries, these very tender waffle fries, very potato-y with crab salad, mayonnaise and cocktail sauce all sprinkled with merken," he said.
Corn is another standout, griddled and topped with crunchy homemade chips, but since the kitchen is hyperseasonal, that dish is most likely no longer on the menu.
"Our farmers all have spreadsheets of when their availability hits for the year, so we have all those and we funnel them all into one spreadsheet so we know exactly what's coming to the week," said Vincent.
One of the nice things about Giant, lots of small and medium-sized plates; perfect for sharing because trust me, when you see what your friends have ordered, you're gonna want to have a taste.
EXTRA COURSE: One of Giant's exceptional cocktails: A modern remake of a 90s favorite - the cosmopolitan
3209 W. Armitage Ave.