One of the few problems with really good party food is that you have to go to a party to eat it. To the rescue: Bonsoirée (2728 W. Armitage Ave.; 773-486-7511), a catering business that sells special-occasion treats (by the pound, takeout only) from a deli case and also has seating for lunches and brunches. The tiny, cheerful storefront space is disarmingly casual; the sophisticated food is worthy of a bigger-deal place. Soups ($3.50) are subtle showstoppers-we were crazy about the puréed celery root and roasted garlic concoction brightened with paprika oil and also about the cauliflower leek, with its artful puddles of toasted-fennel oil. The menu lists mostly sandwiches, including terrific rosemary flank steak with slow-poached red onions, but there’s also a delectable “martini glass appetizer special” of crisp-skinned grilled sea bass on a bed of warm orzo with dried cherries ($8.75) and a highly effective salad of frisée with a port-poached pear ($6.50). Brunch choices include tender omelets, French toast flavored with anise and Grand Marnier, and a well-accessorized prosciutto-and-melon plate. The menu and deli-case offerings change often; keep an eye out for elegant banana bread pudding served with chocolate crème anglaise (pictured here; $4.50 per piece). No liquor.
Expect plenty of options to satisfy Italian comfort food cravings at Adesso (3332 N. Broadway; 773-868-1516), a new East Lake View BYO. Executive chef Alyson Nehren’s casual Italian fare includes bruschetta and specialties such as arancini (Sicilian-style fried risotto balls laced with beef ragù, peas, and mozzarella). The menu also shoots for traditional dishes with modern twists and comes up with the likes of gnocchi jazzed by chunks of caramelized squash and braised short ribs over creamy shallot polenta (pictured here; $15). To avoid the dinner crush, opt for weekend brunch and dig into eggs “in purgatory,” poached in marinara sauce and nestled in Italian toast.
Don’t be deceived by the generic little building that houses Ginger Asian Bistro (15700 S. Harlem Ave., Orland Park; 708-633-1818). The richly colored walls, romantic lighting, and bold floral designs of the interior set an appropriate tone for the elegant dining experience. Pan-Asian cuisine meets French technique in a menu with creations like the exquisite daikon ravioli (pictured here; $7) and the succulent Gorgonzola and almond-crusted prime Australian beef with string beans stir fried in Szechwan sauce. The nationality of this cuisine may be hard to pin down, but it’s creative enough to transcend the norm.
Steve Chiappetti (Café le Coq and the departed Mango) is the new driving force behind Viand Restaurant (155 E. Ontario St.; 312-255-8505), an Art Deco–inspired American bistro tucked away in Streeterville’s Courtyard by Marriott. The veteran chef’s menu focuses on sophisticated spins on classic American cuisine such as chicken pot pie with a mesclun salad tossed in white truffle and balsamic vinaigrette dressing and oven-roasted Amish chicken with preserved lemon, garlic, and rosemary sauce. The junk food cart (pictured here; $7) is the ultimate guilty pleasure, filled to the brim with tasty treats like the homemade marshmallow and Oreo cookies-and it’s actually rolled out to you in your own mini shopping cart.
Photography: Tyllie Barbosa