While walking around the bustling street of Milwaukee Avenue, you might have noticed a new brightly colored space housed in the formerly vacant auto garage. Twain (2445 N. Milwaukee Ave.) brings a nostalgic yet refreshing ode to family-oriented recipes from the Midwest and is set to open Aug. 24. Chef/Owner Tim Graham (Tru, Travelle) and Beverage Director/Owner Rebekah Graham (Pump Room, Publican) are the husband and wife team behind the restaurant and are inspired by family recipes from spiral bound cookbooks that have been passed down for generations. The Grahams co-own Twain with restaurateur Branko Palikuca, co-owner of The Dawson, Topaz Café and Citrine Café.
Twain is a bow to the comfort and humility of the Midwest while simultaneously integrating a mélange of contemporary twists on traditional recipes. Is Twain named after the famous author, Mark Twain? Well, yes it is! Inside their open yet cozy space are colorful and endearing paintings representing Twain’s stories designed by Jordan Mozer & Associates, LTD. Behind their bar, you can find delightful copper representations of the carpetbaggers from “Huckleberry Finn” on the wall.
The Menu: Midwestern Cuisine and Modern Cocktails
Chef Graham describes the menu at Twain as “Midwestern comfort food” with unique twists featuring items such as Chicken Dumplings with crispy chicken skin folded into the dumplings, Surf and Turf featuring meatloaf and unagi along with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
“One [dish] I’m really excited about is our ‘wild rice risotto’ with whipped sweet potatoes; it is big in Minnesota. We use a wood-fired grill to make wood-fired knob onions. It’s my favorite vegetarian option,” Tim Graham said. “We also have vegetarian appetizers: fried green pepper rings, which are doused in powdered sugar—they are so good!”
You can find items such as Beer Cheese Soup made with three cheeses and rye croutons served with a mini High Life to give it that authentic Milwaukee flavor. But perhaps High Life isn’t your thing? Twain has plenty of classic and modern cocktails such as the Wisconsin Old-Fashioned, which has an incredibly refreshing flavor while staying true to the flavors of a pure old-fashioned— the perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness. Another cocktail that stands out is their signature Jelly Jar cocktail, showcasing seasonally rotating fruit based off of a plethora of recipes for jam and jellies.
Beverage Director and Sommelier, Rebekah Graham feels “so much inspiration from all of the natural ingredients and from the process of canning, jarring, and harvesting. That’s kind of where the base of the bar program lies. Then again, it’s also part of the modern Logan Square cocktail culture. We want to have as much fun with these flavors and make cocktails.” They also have 6 draft beers and 4 of them are brewed within 45 minutes of Twain’s location. While their beer is local, their wine follows a tradition of globally rotating wines at multiple price points. They showcase Rieslings, which complement the hearty Midwestern flavors (Press Release). Graham wants there to be “something for everybody” and wants to transcend how quarantined the beverage scene can be.
The Logan Square Community: Excitement and Belonging
Twain is also contributing to the thriving ice-cream scene in Logan Square with their hand-churned ice cream. Chef Graham’s background as a native Missourian gave him the inspiration for this delightful practice.
“Hand-turned ice cream in the living room was a family tradition,” he shared. “You’d have kids from the neighborhood come and help churn it, then teenagers, and then adults because it gets harder. It’s about people sharing experiences together.”
Graham would love to have people from the community come and help churn the ice cream and feels that Logan Square is the perfect neighborhood for this Midwestern family concept. In the future, he said he hopes to set up a dropbox in the atrium where guests can drop off their family recipes “as a time capsule of our community”. Graham feels that Logan Square has a “burgeoning and vibrant” feel to it with a special “energy and rhythm” at night. “Logan Square is breathing right now,” he said.
Rebekah Graham also shared similar sentiments with her husband about Logan Square. They are former Logan Square residents who currently live in neighboring Avondale.
“Logan Square has always felt like our neighborhood; it has so much cultural depth,” Rebekah Graham said. “Everybody seems happy to be here all the time when you’re walking around and see people of all ages from all places smiling and excited to see the outdoors. We’re so excited to be part of the neighborhood and we can’t wait to have people come in.”
Check out our photo gallery of Twain’s Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Aug. 16.