Fork and Knife: from casual to serious dinning
By Patrick Butler
David Byers didn’t plan on opening a pair of eateries in Northcenter and Lincoln Square. It just happened, starting with the Fiddlehead Café, which later became the Fork, said his business sidekick, Anthony Munger.
Munger himself was studying to become a documentary film maker when his roommate at the time–who was in culinary school–had a class assignment where he had to buy a bottle of wine at the start of the semester and take one drink from that bottle every day, making notes on any changes in the flavor.
“Naturally I signed up for that beverage class,” said Munger, who has been working at the Knife restaurant at 4343 N. Lincoln Ave. for the past year-and-a-half, where he is now general manager who also helps oversee the Fork a few blocks away at 4600 N. Lincoln Ave.
It wasn’t Byers’ first restaurant. He had been running Fiddlehead, a “very white tablecloth” eatery for several years before converting it into Fork, which offered more casual dining, with smaller portions, a variety of appetizers, smaller plates, and flights of beer and wine.
Knife, on the other hand, was intended to offer more serious eating – “something meatier, mostly steak options. Three prime cuts and three butcher cuts,” Munger explained.
At the time Knife opened, Munger said he wasn’t aware of any “traditional steak house north of North Avenue.”
Fork is more casual, with homemade sausages making up half the menu, along with three different kinds of hamburgers, Munger noted. It was a neighborhood place where you’d go for a casual date.
Nevertheless, “I believe there are 20 beers on tap at Fork. And you can get a bottle of wine for anything from $30 to $300,” said Munger, who started as a bartender at Fork about a year and a half ago.
Knife, on the other hand, is a place for more serious events like sealing a business deal, celebrating a promotion or retirement, or proposing to your girlfriend, said Munger,
“While I didn’t see it happening, I know of one woman who served her husband with divorce papers,” in the middle of dinner at Knife, he said.
“But please don’t play that up. We don’t want to be the place where people go to break up,” Munger laughed.
While Munger and David Byers handle the management and creative aspects, Paula Byers–a relative of David’s–handles the accounting and pastry-making duties.
So what are the Byers’ and Munger’s future plans for the restaurant empire?
In keeping with the Knife and Fork theme, “maybe we could have a cocktail bar named Flask or a coffeeshop named Flask,” Munger mused.
Anything could happen and often does around here, Munger added.
The Knife restaurant, 4343 N. Lincoln Ave., is intended for serious, meat-based eating where you go to seal a business deal, celebrate a promotion, or propose to your girlfriend, explained Anthony Munger, the business manager who started as a bartender a year and a half ago at Fork, the other kink in the embryonic restaurant chain just down the block. Photo by Patrick Butler