Walking into Logan Square’s Lardon—a meat- and cheese-centric cafe off the California Blue Line stop—is a bit like entering an amalgamation of every little bistro you’ve ever seen on the European episodes of Parts Unknown, down to the whorled wooden tables and hanging cylinders of house-cured salumi behind glass. Of course, most European bistros aren’t spinning records, nor do they serve Wisconsin-made hunks of gouda, but that’s what happens when you bring the Old World to Logan Square.
Lardon operates as an all-day concept, serving Metropolis coffee and baked goods from Aya Pastry in the morning, sandwiches for lunch and charcuterie and drinks in the evening, plus a selection of dinner entrees on weekends (the schedule evidently leads to some confusion: On a recent visit, no fewer than four customers walked in and tried to order sandwiches for dinner).
It’s worth popping in to try the cafe’s cured meats during every meal, but we recommend grabbing a table in the evening for a meat-and-cheese board, which you can customize or order from a set of pre-selected combinations. The chef’s board pairs two smaller meat and cheese plates onto one generously-sized slab of wood, with a presentation that almost begs a surreptitious photo before you dig in—full of glistening Bresaola, salami, honeycomb, smears of house-made preserves, rosemary-flecked truffled lardo and Midwestern cheeses, it looks like a still life sprung into reality. Split between two people, the chef board is nearly enough to function as a full meal; split between three to four, it’ll tide you over between after-work drinks and an at-home dinner.
Speaking of drinks: There’s a small cocktail menu, but wine—served sweetly in bistro-style Duralex glasses or by the bottle—is your best accompaniment here. In summer’s waning days, opt for a patio seat and a bottle of Lambrusco, which offers a bracing, effervescent counterpart to the salty charcuterie. Tuck in with a glass of amaro or an espresso to complete the Euro effect.