Review: flat and point

Author & Photographer: Olivia Xiong

Smoked meats and “wood-fired everything” are the name of the game for Flat & Point, a newly opened, barbecue-inspired, fine-dining restaurant in the heart of Logan Square. Run by Chef Brian Bruns, Flat & Point offers its diners a seasonally rotating menu featuring various cuts of beef and pork, all accompanied by a myriad of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. The restaurant strongly emphasizes the significance of sustainable farming practices; Flat & Point proudly partners with several local farmers, including Slagel Family Farm and Snake River Farms, to deliver on its promise to serve elevated, delicious dishes composed of high-quality and locally-sourced produce and meats.

Despite the strong emphasis on chef-driven dishes and fine-dining techniques, the restaurant upholds a relaxed and casual atmosphere: long wooden benches and booths designed for communal dining fill the open space. The dining room is spacious yet intimate with open access to the kitchen, giving diners a sneak peek into the preparation behind the restaurant’s resolve to bring a piece of Central Texas to Chicago. Diners will also notice the custom-built 500-gallon barrel smoker made from repurposed propane tanks situated in the space (it’s hard to miss), a gargantuan piece of equipment that effectively signals how serious Bruns is about barbecue.

While Central Texas-style barbecue centers heavily on dry rubs for seasoning, Bruns also incorporates various house-made sauces--horseradish dijonnaise, tangy Carolina-style mustard sauce, smoky Chicago-style BBQ sauce--in the preparation of his dishes. The menu is divided into four main categories: smoked goods, things on toast, salads & “not salads,” and big stuff. House smoked farmer’s cheese served with local honey and seeded crackers, house smoked salami flavored with rosemary and thyme, house-made chicken liver mousse on house-made bread, and various house-smoked meats highlight the restaurant’s emphasis on the entire cooking and preparation process; every component and item on the menu is thoughtfully and carefully crafted in-house or directly sourced.

Our group opted to sample a variety of the dishes offered, eventually settling on truffle confit potatoes, pickled seasonal vegetables, smoked mushroom duxelle, house-made focaccia, brisket burnt ends truffle mac ‘n cheese, smoked lentil croquettes, and the Snake River Farms Wagyu brisket with swiss chard and hasselback potatoes. The potatoes, confited in brisket fat for 24 hours and then deep fried, were served with a rich truffled parmesan cream that elevated the perfectly crisp, yet incredibly tender and fluffy potato wedges. The heavily-spiced smoked lentil croquettes served atop a three-bean succotash provided an intense depth of flavor, to which the cooling yogurt-based sauce and watercress was a beautiful complement.

Our table’s favorite dish featured a thick cut of tender, richly-marbled wagyu brisket paired with a buttery hasselback potato and smoked swiss chard; while visually restrained, the brisket’s luscious flavor, delicate seasoning, and succulent texture all highlighted the complexity involved in the preparation of the dish. The meat certainly served as the focal point of the dish, as well as the entire meal; our table felt largely divided on the flavors of the vegetables throughout the course of the meal. The pickled seasonal vegetables included cucumber, carrots, and onions strongly flavored with dill, a note several of us found overwhelming and unremarkable in flavor. The smoked swiss chard served with the Wagyu similarly tasted largely one-note. We felt that the sharp acidity and sweetness of the smoked chard did not contribute to the success of the dish.

If you’re looking to experience a taste of Central Texas-style barbecue, support local farmers and producers, or simply indulge in copious amounts of wagyu brisket and beer (or all of the above), Flat & Point is the place to be.