Exposure Tapas Supper Club
Don't come to this South Loop spot expecting traditional Spanish tapas; this newcomer goes contemporary-American with small plates--with full-sized entrees and a raw bar to boot. Highlights include the Lobster Cocktail, fresh Maine lobster tail served atop of bed of greens, gingered veggies and chive creme fraiche ($19). Other options:braised oxtail gnocchi ($9) and a bacon-wrapped filet mignon with rosemary demi-glace ($29). The bi-level restaurant is still waiting on a few finishing touches, but already has perky punches of red velvet and glitzy oversized chandeliers. Owners will add music to the mix when they open a live music-focused lounge beneath the restaurant later this year.
Jon Young and Stephen Dunne, the partners who produced Roscoe Village's Volo, are putting finishing touches on their latest enterprise, this two-level space in River West (located at the former 4Taste address); they hope to open by next week. Young says he's trying to create a stylish, comfortable nightlife ambience (there will be pool table on the lower level, for instance), without skimping on Dunne's chef-driven approach to cuisine. "You won't have to sacrifice on the menu for the atmosphere," he says. The menu will have everything from duck confit ($18) to Kobe tri-tip steak ($22), but Dunne is trying to keep the food beer-friendly; Paramount will serve beer flights and "shorty glasses" for those times when you just want a taste.
Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge
This handsome Streeterville Asian spot (pronounced "new") makes a good pre- or post-movie option for those headed to the AMC River East (it's located next door in the former home of the short-lived Max & Benny's). The interior is sleek and minimalist, with warm, dark tones pervading. The menu offers plenty of maki basics--California, spider, et cetera--but also a full page of fun, fusion twists such as the Sexy Mexican, a roll of shrimp, spicy crab and jalapeno, topped with avocado. There's also a late-night lounge featuring signature cocktails and nibbles.
Don't get confused: This new Wicker Park BYOB, named Su-Ra, which owner Euiha Hwang tells us means "royal feast" in Korean, is not related to Sura (3124 N. Broadway 773-248-7872), the new Thai-fusion spot in Lakeview with a name that ironically translates to "liquor" in Thai. (And which, more ironically, is still waiting for a liquor license.) The menu takes traditional Korean dishes in a modern direction. You'll find heirloom pork in the dae ki bulgogi ($16) and free-range chicken in the dak kalbi ($15)--high-end ingredients you don't see at most corner Korean joints.
Franconello Italian Restaurant
Fans of Franconello Italian Restaurant won't have to trek to Beverly for their fix anymore. Owners recently launched a sib in the old Maxwell Street Market near UIC. The menu offers banana peppers stuffed with crumbled sausage ($9), sun-dried tomato and smoked mozzarella pizza ($14), braised short ribs with creamy polenta ($22) and, of course, tiramisu ($7). The stylish space features burgundy booths, expansive windows and an open display kitchen; owners hope to debut a spacious off-street outdoor cafe around Labor Day weekend.
We're looking forward to the opening of this Lincoln Square breakfast-and-lunch-only spot--hey, it's not like we can get pannenkoeken (PAN-eh-kook-en), a Dutch-style pancake, at every breakfast boite. What makes these cakes different from the typical buttermilk pancake, you ask? Mostly, it's the size and thickness--co-owner Gina Salgado tells us they measure about 11 inches in diameter and they're slightly thicker than a traditional crepe. Plus, the cakes come with atypical toppings like chocolate and banana or bacon and cheese. Target opening date: early September.
Although the menu at this Humboldt Park favors comfort food and Southern favorites, there are plenty of Latin and Southwestern-inspired dishes in the mix. Expect choices like sausage gravy with buttermilk biscuits, French toast and a breakfast burrito for early-risers; chicken and waffles and huevos rancheros make the weekend brunch menu (remember to bring your own hangover helper, CJ's is BYOB).
Even though Rosebud joints are best known for mammoth portions of pasta, marinara and meatballs don't make the menu at this incarnation (a smart move, since one of its pasta emporiums, Rosebud Theatre District, is almost right across the street). Instead look for signature offerings from Rosebud Steakhouse, like a 18-ounce bone-in filet mignon with wild mushrooms ($41.95), a prime beef burger ($11.95) and a steak salad ($15.95). Fresh fare includes buttermilk-fried chicken ($19.95) and crab and Brie-stuffed tilapia ($29.95). The lunch lineup lists downsized seafood, steaks and chops, plus selections like a Maryland crab cake sandwich ($14.95) and a citrus grilled salmon salad ($15.95).
The long-awaited restaurant from Oprah's personal chef, Art Smith, opened in the adorable house that most recently was Albert's Cafe & Patisserie. The space has been updated, but it's still smallish, with just 35 seats in the main dining room. The restaurant's concept is influenced by Smith's 2001 bestselling cookbook, "Back to the Table," so expect Southern flair. Though the weekday menu will feature lighter fare, you'll still find comfort-food faves on weekends, including biscuits and gravy with grits, and fried chicken and waffles. A wood-fired oven will turn out pizzas. The chef de cuisine is Rey Villalobos, who will oversee the kitchen when Smith is away.
People were dubious when South Siders Shirley Makinney and her husband Blair opened gourmet food shop Beverly's Pantry three years ago. Fancy foods? That's North Sider stuff. Yeah, right. The place has been so successful that the couple just expanded, opening a 30-seat contemporary American bistro next door. The pasture-to-plate concept, emphasizing local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients, already has people lining up. (You'll need to call about a week in advance to get reservations.) "It's so cool, we're actually getting people from the North Side coming here," says Shirley. The BYOB spot features items such as Berkshire pork cheek ($14) and grilled sturgeon with Okinawa sweet potato, sea beans, lemon balm and oxtail ragout ($24). For dessert, Makinney is shipping in P.G.I. Saugatuck gelato, which holds a vaunted position on Oprah's list of favorite things.
The Bluebird Bistro & Wine Bar
Bacon and beer--can it get any better than that? You'll find plenty of both at this very cool new Bucktown gastropub from the folks who brought you Webster's Wine Bar. But you don't have to be Homer Simpson to love it; we stopped in for an opening-night sneak-peek and were blown away by the their pork-heavy menu of shareable plates that includes braised rabbit over a bacon-flecked egg pasta with mushrooms and shallots ($14); a charcuterie menu offering porchetta ($3); and a lump crab salad with bacon, arugula and watercress ($10). Other meats include a chicken liver pate, with a medallion of locally made knackwurst in the center ($6). The beer list will please the hops snob in your life: It's divided by country and includes about 50 selections, complete with tasting notes.
Tavern at the Park
While the vibe of this 300-seat space across from Millennium Park strives for upscale casual, executive chef John Hogan's (Keefer's) classical French training means this isn't going to be average bar food. The menu will include Tavern Teasers, four Slider-sized sandwiches with options like filet mignon with a blue cheese crust ($13), crab cakes ($12) and sirloin ($8). Entrees also offer comfort food with flair: double-cut pork chop with a cherry-cola barbecue sauce ($19), for example. We can't wait to try the fried banana split ($7) for dessert. The two-story glass facade promises impressive views of Millennium Park.
This tiny--and with only four seats tables, we do mean tiny--spot offers specialties from Turkey's Gaziantep province, from which husband-and-wife owners (and chefs) Ahmet and Zeliha Aksoy hail. Among the specialties: kebabs and lahmachun, a thin-curst Turkish-style pizza topped with ground meat and diced veggies. The restaurant's name comes from a blue good luck stone, which also accounts for the blue hues in the dining room.
If you're dyslexic, you might already have a clue about this new Warehouse District. Yep, it's a new spot from Moto owner Joseph Devito, being touted as a more approachable (i.e. affordable and laidback) option to the high-tech degustation menus at its haute cuisine sibling (Otom is Moto spelled backwards, and pronounced, we're told, "autumn").
Calling itself a "modern speakeasy of sorts," this dining destination offers nostalgia-tinged sophistication. Look for a custom-made tile floor with Art Nouveau patterns; an antique camera, circa 1870, will be the focal highlight. (The space is a former print shop.) A floor-to-ceiling wine room will offer a 100-bottle wine list, with most selections less than $75. Owner Emmanual Nony has hired exec chef Kendal Duque (former sous chef of NoMi, under Sandro Gamba) to create a product-driven, seasonally focused contemporary American menu. (Entrees start at $18 and top out around $30.) There also will be a large lounge area with retro cocktails made with seasonally fresh ingredients. Click here to read our First Look.
Michael and Natalie Moore (the original owners of Lincoln Park's Pasta Palazzo and founders of Lakeview's Twist) launched this new Italian Andersonville eatery Friday the 13th (how appropriate, given the name). The opening menu includes jalapeno gnocchi with asparagus, peas and roasted red pepper sauce ($10); a "tonno" Neapolitan-style pizza with tuna, red onions, tomatoes and mozzarella ($10); and sauteed scallops with lentils, lemon-chive butter and crispy scallion rings ($17).
Joe Farina launched a spinoff of his popular South Loop spot in Wicker Park , about five months later than his original Valentine's Day projection. The new location is smaller than the original, but mirrors the look with Tuscan yellow walls, a tin ceiling and mahogany accents. Both eateries offer the same menu; don't miss the chicken with escarole and sausage ($18).
Phil McFarland and Ty Fuijimura, the duo behind Wicker Park's Lava, have resurrected the original Lava address on Damen Avenue in East Ukrainian Village. The once-dark space now features exposed brick and earth tones with -- gasp! -- new windows to let the sun shine in. They've brought on Eddie Navar (ex-Hot Chocolate) to create the menu at the 20-seat Italian cafe; look for choices like a soprassata, arugula and sliced fontina panini ($7), honey-lavender gelato ($3.50-$6) and white anchovy and pesto-infused oil bruschetta ($2).
We're sad to report that organic baker Michelle Garcia is closing Bleeding Heart Bakery, but don't panic people--she's just moving to larger digs in Roscoe Village (1955 W. Belmont Avenue). Even though we'll miss her in West Town, we won't have to worry about sating our sweet tooth with the slew of recent sugar-amped openings. Here's the roundup: Sweet Cakes Bakery, which opened near Damen Avenue and Walton Street in June, offers tasty treats like, strawberry-rhubarb mini pies, blueberry scones and chocolate mocha cupcakes. Lovely opened in late June on Milwaukee Avenue near Thomas Street; the pastry cases are stocked with goodies like banana-pecan muffins, brownies and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter-butter cream. Carol Watson opened Milk & Honey Bake Shop near the Damen Avenue "L" stop July 16; she's offering a lineup of baked goods like carrot cake, cupcakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts and scones. River North gets its own a slice of the bakery action at the pie-only boutique, Pie, offering a lineup of 10 pies, ranging from the classics (apple) to the not-so-classic(peanut butter).
The Chicago Riverwalk
The banks along the Chicago River (below Wacker Drive between Columbus Drive and Franklin Street) have reopened after being closed due to Wacker Drive construction for a long time. O'Briens Riverwalk Cafe, Robinson's Ribs, Mustard and Onions Grill, and Caffecafe on the River are the first restaurants to take root there. Look for Cyrano's Café and Wine Bar to open in August.
This fast-growing Denver-based chain has landed in Lincoln Park, right across the street from Children's Memorial Hospital. The menu features panini, subs, pizzetti (individual sized Neapolitan-style pizzas) soups and salads.
Between Boutique Cafe and Lounge
Don't be confused by the name of this intriguing, just-opened Wicker Park place. "Boutique" refers to "boutique plates." What the heck are those? It's another name for small plates. Co-owner Carl Anderson says he was inspired by his wife's predilection to mix and match -- a little of this, some of that -- from menus. Radhika "Rad" Desai, formerly sous chef at Vermilion, is exec chef here, whipping up border-hoppin' entrees. Click here to read our First Look
Al Primo Canto
Brazilian steakhouses? Those are, like, so 2003. The latest all-you-can-eat concept to migrate from South America is the galeteria. Think of it as the poultry version of beef-focused churrascarias like Brazzaz and Fogo de Chao--but without funny gaucho pants on the waiters. For $29, you sit back and let the feast come to you. First courses include pao de queijo, (bread made from a Parmigiano-Reggiano-infused dough), spaghettini with your choice of three sauces (aioli, marinara or mushroom), and sides like fried polenta and crunchy potatoes (boiled, fried and served with a gorgonzola cream). Meat dishes include the namesake galeto al primo canto (small, young chicken), roasted in an imported, brick-lined oven manufactured for the restaurant. Not enough? Leg of lamb and beef tenderloin are also included in the price.
Shikago: Kevin and Alan Shikami, the brothers behind River North's upscale Kevin , have opened their upscale Shikago (that's an amalgam of Shikami and Chicago) in the heart of the Loop's Financial District. Expect a modern interior and three distinct pan-Asian menus: One for lunch carryout, another for the lounge and a third for the elegant dining room that promises to be an easy win for the business dinner crowd.
Chef-owner Giovanni DeNigris has reopened his Puglia, Italy-inspired Italian restaurant in Lincoln Square in the short-lived GP Franklin's address. (Trattoria Trullo's original Evanston location closed in March to make way for new construction.) This outpost has added perks, namely a retail area featuring grocery imports from Puglia (pronounced POOL-lee-ah). Later this summer, look for DeNigris to serve as executive chef and partner at the more sceney Macello in the Warehouse District, with business partner-designer Frank DiBuglione. Macello (which roughly translates to "slaughterhouse," or in some contexts, say owners, "craziness") will offer quick-serve gourmet deli-style service in front and a vibrant dining room in back. In addition to house specialty scodella di creta (sort of like Italian version of a casserole), there will be a "pizza guy" entertaining the crowds by tossing dough for wood-fired pizzas.
Need a classy place for lunch, but don't have all the time in the world? Check out this uber-stylish new spot in the Merchandise Mart from Blue Plate catering, which also operates Rhapsody. Bluprint offers a $17 "designer" prix-fixe lunch option that includes choices like gazpacho, grilled chicken with a tomato-caper relish, and a chocolate brownie for dessert. To speed it up, all courses are served together. Dinner is entirely a la carte and includes appetizers such as rock crab salad ($10) and hamachi tartare served atop a banana cake ($10), and entrees like dry-aged sirloin ($25) and Amish chicken ($21). The lounge menu includes duck confit nachos ($8), a wagyu burger ($13) and cocktails like the New Manhattan, made with amaretto and almond syrup.
Margaritas are back, baby! This casual full-service Mexican eatery is open in the former Dos Hermanos space in the Sears Tower. We're betting office workers are going to relish sipping post-work cocktails here since it offers the one perk the other Tower eateries can't-- a second floor outdoor deck and a bar. In addition to the fresh-squeezed lime margaritas--which will surely take the edge off after that brutal 3 p.m. meeting -- there's a menu of appetizers, salads and as well as all the usual Mexican restaurant favorites.
Mexican parrilladas (mixed grills) are the specialty of this new, laidback restaurant and lounge that opened in the former Pacific Cafe space in Bucktown. Your table is presented with a charcoal-burning grill that cooks the meat tableside. The seafood grill ($32.95 for two) includes langoustines, scallops, calamari, shrimp and a fish of the day. The meat version ($29.95 for two) comes with baby-back ribs, fajitas, skirt steak and chicken. The look of this spot is rustic, but with contemporary flourishes like plasma screen TVs, which will help draw a late-night lounge crowd for margaritas and cazuelas, a fruity Tequila-spiked punch. The name (prounounced cow-BA) means dark wood in Spanish.
This "amuse bouche boutique" is slated to open Wednesday. That's right: All amuse bouche, all the time. An amuse bouche, of course, is a bite-sized nibble high-end chefs use to tempt your taste buds before dinner. They will be priced starting at $1.50, and you can order a flight if you're feeling hungry. This high concept has a major player behind it: Dan Krasney, who helped pioneer Restaurant Row with Vivo (with partners Jerry Kleiner and Howard Davis). Krasney's positioning V.I.C.E. as a Vivo counterpart, hiring Chris Laramie, recently executive sous chef at four-star Everest to create a menu of decadent nibbles such as pancetta-wrapped quail ($3) and wagyu carpaccio ($5). Look for lounge-style seating, a late-night scene and weekend DJs. (FYI: The name's an acronymn for Vivo Ice Cream Emporium. Yeah, we don't really get it, either. Laramie says it was an earlier concept for the space.)
BYOB SUSHI ALERT: The folks behind Bucktown's Coast have launched a South Loop sibling, and it's also BYOB. (We recommend you plan ahead, there is no liquor store in the immediate area.) Look for a menu of faves from the original location; plus fresh options like seared sesame scallops on spinach with toasted yolk sauce, a tuna and super white tuna roll sans seaweed and a teriyaki ribeye steak. They're even beefing up the daily specials here look for choices like sea bream (a.k.a. dorade) and geoduck (a giant clam with a rich shellfish flavor, pronounced GOOEY-duk). You'll have to keep your eyes open to find it; owners are still waiting for the permanent signage to get installed.
Big openings in the works:
Powerhouse Restaurant and Bar
When we got wind of this Near West Side spot we thought we might need to show up in our workout gear. It's actually just located in The Powerhouse, the historic Beaux Arts-style building that used to house the coal-fired generators and boilers that provided juice for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad (a massive 223-foot smokestack tops the long-vacant building). Owner Jimmy Alexander, a former partner in Pegasus Restaurant and Taverna, is planning a duo of dining options: an upscale steak house and a more casual eatery with sandwiches, salads and more. There'll be sidewalk seating for both. Look for a mid-summer opening.
This official name of this spot -- slated to open August, 2007 -- is La Madia - Art of Pizza, Love of Wine. OK, when your restaurant has a subtitle, you're pretty serious about things. Describing itself as a "refined pizzeria," the 4,400 square-foot space will include a 125-seat dining room, and -- according to the press release -- "a private wine and pizza tasting room." A private pizza-tasting room? Sounds like heaven to us. In addition to pizza with fresh, seasonal ingredients, they're promising risotto, pastas, a selection of fancy imported cheese, and a big, juicy wine list to match (bottles will be housed in a 13-foot-tall, glass-enclosed cellar). Chef and restaurateur Jonathan Fox -- who was chief operationg officer for Maggiano's Little Italy -- is behind this spot.
Updated Aug 22, 2007Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times