What’s Coming and What’s Cheap in Chicago Dining
Argent, The Peasantry, and Baker & Nosh
Raisin sticky buns from Baker & Nosh
COMING SOON: Argent
Hotel dining is so 1893. At least that’s what Rodelio Aglibot (Sunda) seems to think. He is converting Aja, the short-lived restaurant in the Dana Hotel and Spa, into a spot that will “inspire through the architectural elements during the late 1800s.” Aglibot, acting as culinary director, did his homework to re-create the essence of 19th-century American feasting in the bi-level space, which boasts a raw bar on its mezzanine level. Apparently our forefathers had a penchant for crispy spinach salad, lobster toast, and cotton candy. 660 N. State St.; 312-202-6050.
COMING SOON: The Peasantry
Alexander Brunacci is antichain, even if it’s his own restaurant. So instead of building on his fancified hot dogs at Franks ’n’ Dawgs, he’s turning to a different street food. “We are redoing the humble gyro sandwich,” the jovial Aussie says, hinting at offbeat fillings such as octopus, duck, and venison. Some Franks ‘n’ Dawgs staples—most notably, chef Joe Doren—will make the move to Clark Street, but with a liquor license (wine and microbrews on tap), table service, and more than gyros on the menu (flatbreads, pastas, and Buffalo-style duck wings), this is clearly not a frankfurter follow-up. ETA: May. 2723 N. Clark St.
BUDGET: Baker & Nosh
Putting a shiny white vintage gas stove in the window is a sure-fire way to get attention—and serving superb baked goods is the best way to keep Chicagoans’ interest stoked. Bill Millholland succeeds on both counts at his spiffy new bakery and café, where passersby can watch him knead and shape dough in his storefront kitchen.
An experienced baker and, in recent years, an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, Millholland offers to-go baguettes ($2.75), sourdough boules ($4.50), flatbreads ($6), and party-ready fruit tarts ($16), as well as fancy cheeses and a few salumi and pâtés, but what’s your hurry? Sit down already. Soups ($4.75, with a roll) may include anything from a hammy roasted red pepper with spaetzle to a bold vegan tomato orzo. Sandwiches ($6.50), on ciabatta, are substantial: Try the roast beef with pickled onions, white cheddar, arugula, and horseradish mayo, and also the ham and Swiss.
Sweets, enjoyably not oversweet, include sticky buns ($3), fruit crisps ($2.75), and, on weekends, pains au chocolat ($3.25) or fruit cup croissants topped with lemon curd and strawberries ($3.50). Any of them go magnificently with cappuccino ($3.50). 1303 W. Wilson Ave.; 773-989-7393.
Photograph: Travis Roozée