Wicker Park is no stranger to disappearing businesses, but few closings raised hackles like the 2007 shuttering of Filter. Perched right by the Six Corners, the gruff yet comforting coffee shop was at the heart of the 'hood, but it was an icon because it represented the sweet spot of Wicker Park's
history between gentrification and generic-ness.
But Wicker Parkers, rejoice! Not only has Filter miraculously emerged from the ashes of neighborhood change, but the reincarnation is more or less the same.
The biggest difference is location. The old spot in the Flat Iron Building is still occupied by the Bank of America that swiped it, so Filter settled on a storefront a few blocks down Milwaukee Avenue.
The shop is now a rectangular room that's much larger than the old quirky triangular layout. Filter has crammed in even more secondhand couches, chairs and tables - a fun game to play is "Guess Which Furniture Is from the Old Place" - so while the bigger space allows for more elbow room, there's still camaraderie by proximity with your fellow patrons. And now the wifi is free, so there's no reason to lift your feet off your ottoman anytime soon (unless compelled by the music, which, as before, is slightly too loud).
The menu is also more or less the same, with a lengthy, egg-heavy breakfast portion (including a tofu option and, thank heavens, Hipster Hash), as well as wraps and sandwiches (again, tofu abounds), salads and soups. And let's thank heavens some more: sweet potato fries are back.
There's a slight change with the coffee, with beans roasted in-house in a machine that runs on coffee oil (one of several "green" changes), but, as before, there's a full espresso bar, tea and - one more "thank heavens" - smoothies.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Alexander Hough