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What’s New and What’s Cheap in Chicago Dining

Brindille, Earth + Ocean, and Kuma’s Too

Brindille’s Lobster in a Spring Garden and Earth + Ocean’s chicken and rice
Brindille’s Lobster in a Spring Garden (left) and Earth + Ocean’s chicken and rice (right)
 

Opening: Brindille

“If Naha is our home, Brindille is like our girlfriend on the side. Or man on the side. Whatever.” That’s Michael Nahabedian, whose 12 happy years at Naha with Carrie Nahabedian, his cousin and a James Beard Award–winning chef, apparently could not prevent the pair from embarking on a tryst with a sexy Parisian lair just a block north. Their new spot, opening by mid-March, plays off Naha’s three-star polish with a bustling intimate vibe: 52 seats, mostly at rounded banquettes, and a casual bar menu that includes classic pousse-café cocktails and French-inspired snacks. But dinner gets plenty ambitious, as with a roasted lobster with bulb onions, young turnips, herbs, and fragrant flowers. If you’re going to cheat on your honey, may as well go all out. 534 N. Clark St., 312-595-1616.

 

New: Earth + Ocean

In his 18 years on the culinary road, Filipino native Rodelio Aglibot has cooked Japanese at Koi and New Asian at Yi Cuisine (both in Southern California) and consulted in Pan-Asian at Sunda, Italian at the Florentine, and in American at Argent (all in Chicago). Now, with his feet planted firmly in Mount Prospect, Aglibot takes on New American cuisine. To him, that means from-scratch pizzas and pastas, Malay-style sea bass, Filipino adobo pork belly, and Argentine gaucho steak. And his signature dish—crispy “confited” chicken thighs with rice, fresh shelled peas, and a runny egg—is a spin on the comfort food he ate growing up in Honolulu (a.k.a. heaven on earth surrounded by an ocean). 125 Randhurst Village Dr., Mount Prospect, 847-388-3636.

 

New: Kuma’s Too

In mid-February, the underworld-themed burger bar Kuma’s Corner spun off a 73-seater at the most appropriate address (none other than 666) in the least likely neighborhood (decidedly nonmetalhead Lincoln Park). Tony Lomanto transferred from the Avondale location—where the hallowed Kuma Burger, with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, keeps ’em queuing up for hours—to man the grills, cooking identical offerings. The music-focused decor is also similar, but owner Michael Cain calls the Kuma’s Too building “nicer and more Lincoln Park–y.” As for the new neighbors: “Everybody likes burgers, and everybody could stand to lose some political correctness, so we’ll be good.” 666 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-472-2666.

 

Photograph: Anna Knott

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