What’s New, What’s Coming, and What’s Cheap in Chicago Dining
La Sirena Clandestina, Drumbar, Dragon Ranch, and Troquet
Whitefish dinner at Troquet
At the intersection of scene-y and scenery lies Drumbar, a speakeasy-inspired destination poised to revitalize the Raffaello Hotel. First, the scene: a lounge on the 18th story, where Streeterville’s finest mingle on a 1,500-square-foot outdoor terrace. They sip concoctions by Benjamin Newby (The Underground)—which favor rare bourbons, Scotches, and whiskeys and include the Noir, a mix of Johnnie Walker Black, Aperol, fresh lemon juice, tobacco syrup, and grapefruit bitters—and snack on small plates courtesy of Mauro Mafrici (Pelago). As for the scenery, from 200 feet above Delaware Place, Lake Michigan looks nearly as gorgeous as Drumbar’s patrons. 201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-924-2531.
John Manion, chef/partner of La Sirena Clandestina
NEW: La Sirena Clandestina
“A lot of places I go in Chicago, people tell me how to eat or how to order. I don’t want it to be confusing like that.” John Manion, chef/partner of La Sirena Clandestina, the new Latin spot slated to open in mid-July across from Next, could run for president on that platform. His restaurant is refreshing in every way, from its homemade empanadas and alfajores to its decor (1960s South American) and name (which evokes an underground whorehouse in Havana). Manion (Mas, Branch 27), who grew up in Brazil, plans to grill Pacific lobster tail and serve it with miso-malagueta butter. Doubt he’ll have to tell us how to eat it. 954 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-5300.
COMING SOON: Dragon Ranch
Half Filipino and half Chicagoan, restaurateur Billy Dec has explored both sides of his heritage at Sunda, Rockit, and Rockit Burger Bar. Now he plans to fuse the two at Dragon Ranch, a slick Asian-inspired barbecue spot opening in early July that will offer everything from steamed buns and bánh mì sandwiches to mac and cheese—plus a cocktail program revolving around a proprietary moonshine recipe.
“I’ve always had these two worlds coming together,” says Dec. “So we experimented with old-school slow-cooked barbecue and traditional Asian sauces and made new sauces by mixing the cultures together. Like my parents.” 441 N. Clark St.; 312-955-1900.
Simple ideas are so often the best. Case in point: the utterly approachable but authentic French food served in this casual corner tavern. Why not munch on a croque végétarian and frites ($8) while watching the Cubs lose on a TV over the bar? Who says you can’t? With a generous pour of pinot noir ($7) at hand, it’s not the least bit painful. Or ignore the game and concentrate on the moules frites ($9), quiche with salad ($7), or perhaps a cheese or charcuterie plate ($9).
Hungrier than that? Consider something listed under “Les Plats”—$12 buys you pork belly, duck confit, fish, or the entrée of the day (sometimes, hilariously, a cheddar-jalapeño brat) with a salad and a big handful of those excellent frites. The people behind this enterprise also run LM, a more serious French restaurant a couple of blocks away, and they know what they’re doing. Desserts ($3) are small and few—just cinnamony rice pudding and Nutella-laced chocolate mousse—but satisfying with a cup of Julius Meinl espresso. 1834 W. Montrose Ave.; 773-334-5664.
Photography: Anna Knott