At dinner with friends at L. Woods Tap & Pine Lodge, someone ordered fried calamari. Ugh. This ubiquitous starter is usually dull and hardly worth the time it takes to chew.

But: L. Woods’ calamari ($12) turned out to be a remarkably better take on the familiar squid, the texture tender, not squishy or chewy; the tempuralike breading lacy and delicate.

“We source our calamari from the East Coast,” says executive chef and partner John Chiakulas. “Never frozen.”

It was wonderfully obvious this calamari was not pre-breaded and shipped frozen; the pieces were pleasantly irregular, clearly hand-cut in the kitchen.

The mistake many chefs make when preparing calamari, according to Chaikulas, is cooking until the breading is a deep brown, “which means the calamari is overcooked and rubbery.”

Not here. This squid was so good that those prefab, rubber-bandy calamari I’ve endured for years were momentarily, thankfully, forgotten.

L Woods Tap & Pine Lodge, 7110 Lincoln Ave., Lincolnwood, 847-677-3350,