There was really no place to eat in the town I’m from, not even respectable fast food—I grew up distraught that Hardee’s, which seemed to me like a sort of McDonald’s lite, was the most cosmopolitan option available. The best actual restaurant was and remains a supper club, the Three Mile, which is justly famous for its broiled whitefish. You can get things like shrimp baskets and burgers there. What moved me most, as a child, was the salad bar, an embarrassment of riches: on a base of iceberg lettuce, if your parents weren’t really watching, you could freeload on ranch dressing, croutons, shredded cheese, and bacon bits. My mom only ever served us vinaigrette; a visit to the Three Mile salad bar was something spectacular.

I was reminded, unpleasantly, of that salad bar on a recent visit to MorseL, a new restaurant in Rogers Park that marks a solidified monopoly: its owner, Colm Treacy, also has the neighboring Glenwood, and the nearby Sidecar, and it’s not hard to see a future in which fully two blocks of Glenwood Avenue are taken up by drink and dining establishments that aim squarely at the middle of the brow. Take, for instance, this “jalapeño bacon wedge,” from the appetizer menu: a lettuce wedge layered with whole strips of bacon (which had a nice spicy kick), bathed in goopy, industrial blue cheese dressing, garnished with hard-boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes. It offered all the cholesterol possibilities of your standard midwestern salad bar, but none of the accidental cohesion that so pleases you when you’re, say, nine years old and, left to your own devices, you pile a bunch of junk food on a plate. Actual adults made this. The dressing was terrible. The lettuce tasted like water. My companion likened the salad to a BLT, and I took her point, though I thought it was an overgenerous appraisal; it’s hard to conceive of a bad BLT.