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Evanston restaurant Found named one of Chicago area’s best new restaurants

Found, 1631 Chicago Ave., was recently named one of Chicago’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine. The restaurant offers

Daily file photo by Adrianna Rodriguez

Found, 1631 Chicago Ave., was recently named one of Chicago’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine. The restaurant offers "new American rustic" cuisine, according to owner Amy Morton.

Oliver Ortega, Reporter

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Though it was never lost, contemporary American bistro Found is making waves in downtown Evanston’s culinary scene.

Found, 1631 Chicago Ave., was recently named one of Chicago’s best new restaurants by Chicago Magazine, which praised the restaurant for its “enthusiastic menu” and a “following that any restaurant would kill for.”

“Does anybody ever leave this place? Half of Evanston seems to be lingering at courthouse benches abutting Found’s U-shaped bar, on the 19th-century settee in the lounge, and in the library-like dining room,” the review said of the restaurant, which opened in October.

Owner Amy Morton calls her culinary offerings “new American rustic,” which she defines as being heavy on grains and vegetables and light on ingredients. More than just a novel purveyor of delicious dishes such as fried oyster tacos with bacon and tomatillos and caviar with creme fraiche and toast, the restaurant is a social and environmental enterprise, she said.

Most of the things on the menu are locally sourced. Some of her employees used to be homeless and are now clients of social agencies Inspiration Corporation and Evanston-based Connections for the Homeless.

“I wanted to do something that was approachable and good for the planet,” Morton said.

Most items inside the restaurant are second-hand, including a collection of globes and the furniture, in line with the theme of being an environment-friendly bistro, Morton said.

Customers can choose to settle down in a salon-style seating area with a disparate but cozy array of couches, high-backed chairs and paintings. There’s also a bar featuring local wines and spirits, above which a chalkboard ceiling offers thought-provoking quotes. Patrons looking for a more formal dining experience can opt for the restaurant’s main dining hall.

Found is constantly busy and doesn’t take reservations, as Chicago magazine noted. But its success isn’t surprising to Morton, an experienced restaurateur.

Before taking a hiatus more than 10 years ago to raise her family, Morton ran a French bistro and music bar in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. The culinary business is a family thing: Her father Arnie Morton is the founder of a chain of steakhouses and owns several other Chicago restaurants.

Although she didn’t originally want to be a restaurateur, Morton said she gradually warmed up to the business, combining her interests in social causes and the environment to make a unique dining experience in Found.

As for the quirky name, Morton said she and her chef had found and re-purposed almost everything in the storefront, formally occupied by Italian restaurant Gio.

“We basically found everything and saw another use for it, so I like to say we find ourselves,” she said.

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