Dining Tidbits

November features Province, Cafecito, Breijo, and Martial Noguier

Fluke seviche at Province
Fluke seviche at Province

New
Province
If chefs were geographic points of interest, Randy Zweiban would be the Panama Canal: His new West Loop restaurant, Province, connects North and South America. A former diamond setter, caterer, rock ’n’ roll drummer, and exec chef at Nacional 27, Zweiban specializes in sprightly dishes such as a seviche of sashimi-grade fluke with citrus juices, minced peppers, and grapefruit segments (pictured here; $7). And this time he’s doing it in a completely green venture, from the building materials to the organic wines to the all-natural Gunthorp Farms pork. The Panama Canal took ten years to build and cost thousands of lives. We predict Province’s launch fares slightly better. 161 N. Jefferson St.; 312-669-9900.  –Justine Gregory

 

Budget Beat
Cafecito
You don’t have to be a frugal tourist or a college student to appreciate Cafecito, a chipper new Cuban coffeehouse next door to a hostel and a quick hop from several Loop campuses. You could be a culture vulture looking for a bite before a performance at the Auditorium or Symphony Center (it’s open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) or, frankly, just grateful for a cheap, interesting meal in a spendy neighborhood. Substantial and satisfying pressed sandwiches are the main event: The cubano ($4.99) is piled with marinated roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and sweet pickles; jardin ($5.49) is full of roasted vegetables and mushrooms, mozzarella, fresh arugula, and jalapeño hummus. We also like the choripan ($5.49), with its bold Spanish chorizo, grilled onions, and chimichurri, and the excellent atun ($5.49), tuna and olive salad. Sides ($2.35 for a generous “small”) include hearts of palm with artichokes, roasted red peppers, and eggplant salad. Finally, there’s robust, slightly sweetened Cuban coffee, American coffee and teas, and hot chocolate, any of which goes down easy with a sweet from the pastry case. 26 E. Congress Pkwy.; 312-922-2233.  –Joanne Trestrail

 

Eclectic
Briejo
First off, it’s not “Brie-AY-ho,” nor is there anything remotely Mexican about Briejo, so get that out of your mind. Brigette Lytle’s new 55-seat spot in Oak Park’s arts district is pronounced “Brie-Jo,” and her menu is full of eclectic creations by two veteran chefs, Jody André (Speakeasy) and Katherine August (Tizi Melloul). “The food is very much from their pasts, plus what I have been thinking about,” says Lytle, a market research director. This means dishes such as a crab cake topped with bacon, a fried egg, and truffle-dressed watercress. We’re expecting a hit—assuming Lytle did her research. 211 Harrison St., Oak Park; 708-848-2743.  –Jeff Ruby

 

Café des Architectes
Café des Architectes

On the Move
Martial Noguier
A native Parisian, Noguier has been at home in Chicago for ten years now—briefly lighting a fire at The Pump Room, then launching One Sixtyblue into three-star territory. His recent surprise move to the Sofitel actually makes perfect sense. “I want to do a real bistro,” says Noguier about Café des Architectes, the hotel’s striking dining room. “Like what’s happening now in Paris.” Look for wild sea bass with baby asparagus, Comté cheese, almond emulsion, and veal jus, with pommes frites ($28). “I am going to try to be a neighborhood restaurant. Nothing ostentatious.” Sounds good to us. Et vous? 20 E. Chestnut St.; 312-324-4000.  –Penny Pollack

Photography: (Seviche) courtesy of Province, (Café Des Architectes) Kendall Karmanian

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5 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

I had dinner at Brie Jo for the second time on Saturday night and it was great. The food was amazing- we had the spinach salad with pancetta and goat cheese & mussels in a creamy broth for starters- both were amazing. I had the seared tuna and my husband had the pork tenderloin. They were perfectly cooked and delicious. For dessert we split the Goat cheese cheesecake with brittle topping. I loved it, my husband didn't. Service was good, but a little slow. Wine list was reasonable and the atmosphere felt more hip/urban than most places in OP, which was nice. It got a little smokey from the kitchen once, but overall, it was a wonderful experience. We will be back.

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