It’s one of the cardinal rules of the culinary world: Wine and food are meant to be paired. But wine experts Nelson Fitch (Independent Spirits, Inc.) and Collin Moody (Perman Wine Selections, Red & White Wines) had a hard time coming around to the idea at first. Their original concept for Income Tax, the Edgewater eatery they opened in December, was a full-fledged wine bar with sparse charcuterie options. Chef Ryan Henderson (Momofuku, Maple & Ash), however, pushed them to think bigger: “I said, ‘This sounds like a good idea, but let’s go all the way — let’s be ambitious about [the food],’ ” Henderson says. He managed to persuade them and signed on as executive chef. The result? A cozy alternative wine bar and restaurant, boasting European-inspired cuisine and an atypical wine list.
Here’s what to expect at Income Tax:
What’s in a name: Despite the restaurant’s timely opening, the moniker has nothing to do with the IRS; rather, Income Tax was the name of a popular cocktail in the 1920s. “The joke is that it was not a very good cocktail, but our version is,” says Moody, the general manager. It’s also a nod to the neighborhood. “Edgewater has storefronts with simple signage that says ‘Drycleaner’ or ‘Mattress Shop,’ ” he says. “Since there’s an old currency exchange in this [building], having a really simple neon sign that just says ‘Income Tax’ is fitting.”
Pair up: The menu is categorized much like the wine list, by European country. Our favorites, by location: grilled scallops ($18) with sweet potatoes, chorizo and pil pil from Spain; Coq au Vin ($20) served with fingerlings and Burgundy wine from France; and the housemade carrot agnolotti ($16) with veal sweetbreads and mushrooms from Italy.
Pass it around: The by-the-glass vino options are few, but it’s for a good reason. “Anything on the list can be opened up as a half bottle, and the remainder of that half bottle gets put up on a board as by the glass,” Moody says. The bottle-sharing program is meant to encourage patrons to try more of the 80 selections of wine.
Sweet finish: Don’t be fooled by the hard outer crust of the canelé ($3). The French dessert comes with a sharp knife, used to cut open the thick caramelized crust and reveal a soft, vanilla cake and custard center.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m., 5959 N. Broadway, (773) 897-9165; Incometaxbar.com