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2018 Best New Restaurants
Photo: Jeff Marini

5

Somerset

Somerset is the Boka Restaurant Group’s 18th restaurant in 16 years. Since it opened in September, the group has launched Bellemore in the West Loop (see No. 2), and it has plans to unveil another operation this summer across from Wrigley Field. And though it might be tempting to dine at the rollicking Somerset once, mark it off your list, and move on to the group’s next hit, that would be a mistake. Executive chef Lee Wolen has turned a shiny, two-story hot spot into the kind of place where anyone would hope to be a regular. First of all, Wolen hits his marks three meals a day, though he does soar highest at dinnertime, balancing intricate flavors with ease, as in the wood-grilled Spanish octopus with tart radishes and a sweet potato and sesame purée. He packs the appealing menu with gems both small (crispy corn and salt cod fritters) and large (a plump whole chicken with homemade chicken sausage piped under the skin). Energy? Somerset’s got it in spades. But it’s the food that’ll make you want to keep a standing reservation.

Don’t miss:Venison (slices of rosy loin) and more venison (nubs of gamy sausage) in one virtuosic, sunchoke-topped plate ($43).

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