Midnight Special

Midnight Special

Her first two restaurants were located in her native Indianapolis, but Susan Goss really hit her stride when she and husband/GM/wine guru Drew moved to Chicago in 1993 to open the nationally acclaimed Zinfandel. Ten years later, the couple opened West Town Tavern, where Susan's take on contemporary comfort food has again earned local and national praise. Goss is "a world-class Midwestern chef," says Bon Appetit.

This is some kitchen you've got.
We live in a six-unit building that was a gut rehab. The space was here for the kitchen; we got to spec the finishes and upgrades.

You certainly knew what to spec.
I'm used to professional gear at the restaurant. That's what I wanted at home.

We especially admire the hood. Does it vent to the outside?
Yes. The developer wasn't happy about doing it, but we made it part of the deal.

Do all the units have one?
One other owner demanded one. The developer said no.

Now let's tackle this fridge. It looks like you make some serious meals here.
I cook every night when we get home.

Even if work runs late?
Yes, 10 p.m. or midnight, I start whenever we get home.

Most chefs just grab a snack and head for bed if it's late.
True. But if you do that, you wouldn't have any life. Our personal life is important to us, so a nice meal and a glass of good wine...you want to have that.

What's on the Goss home menu?
I stock this fridge with things that let me pull together a nice meal quickly. That way I can whip up something yummy without waking up the entire building.

You're a noisy cook?
The guy who lives directly below us is a 9-to-5 worker. He doesn't appreciate our latenight activities.

Have a post-work specialty?
Once a week, we grill pizza outside on our gas grill. We like to think we're proof you can eat well when you come home from a restaurant job.

What's breakfast like?
Not big. We're nibblers. This is not a bacon and eggs family.

And after breakfast...
I'll walk to work--it's only four blocks. Or sometimes I'll exercise--swimming at a local pool, Pilates, sometimes boxing.

You work every day?
Yes, every day but Sunday —we're closed—and Tuesday.

What happens on Sunday?
It's the one day I don't cook. If it's a football Sunday, we focus on that. If not, we typically wind up in a restaurant in Chinatown with a case of wine and a bunch of friends.

Excited about the Super Bowl?
Oh, this is my idea of heaven! Because of the Bears, of course, But we're from Indianapolis, so we've got the Colts, too.

Zinfandel was such a great restaurant. Do you miss it?
Sure, But it was a huge project that took all of our energy. We're more comfortable now with 70 seats instead of 145. We can have a little bit of a life and not be so tied to the restaurant.

So you're glad to be out of it.
Doing Zinfandel made me a better cook and a better manager. We were proud of it, and we're also happy that it's gone.

WHAT'S CHILLIN':
Prosciutto
Oven-Roasted Tomato Confit
Salt-Cured Anchovies
Paulina Meat Market Pork Tenderloin
West Town Tavern House-Cured Bacon
Pesto
Lanjager German Beef Salami
Organic Michigan Apples and Pears
Liptauer Cheese Spread
Silk Lite Chocolate
Soy Milk
Calamata Olives
Blueberry Pomegranate Juice

PHOTO: RALF-FINN HESTOFT/REDUX PLUS