LM = Lots More
You could be excused for thinking that Brasserie 54 by LM (5420 N. Clark St., no phone yet) enumerates how many restaurants the owners of the LM brand, Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser, have by now. The total is four, a number that has grown exponentially since they opened their first LM in 2009*. Named for the block it’s on, their latest venture takes the space formerly occupied by Premise, a fine-dining restaurant carved out of the restaurant half of the wine shop In Fine Spirits. (Premise struggled to find its footing and closed yesterday.) Nicole Outrequin Quaisser says Brasserie 54 will have more of a neighborhood feel than Premise, with a menu similar to their casual French restaurant Troquet and an average dinner check of $25. As with the Outrequin Quaissers’ other places, Bradford Phillips will oversee the food, served at both lunch and dinner seven days a week, and a French-themed brunch on the weekends. “We are happy to bring French to Andersonville,” Nicole says, then adds, possibly prophetically: “Or anywhere, for that matter.”
Raising the Bar
Foodie-ism permeates all corners of the dining landscape nowadays, as proved by the forthcoming Municipal Bar + Dining Company (216 W. Ohio St., no phone yet), an upscale sports bar and gastropub scheduled to open in October. Owners include Chris Lardakis (Kanela Breakfast Club) and Sam Fakhouri, as well as a notable investor, the retired all-Pro defensive end Simeon Rice, a Chicago native. Municipal’s menu lists familiar items such as steak tartare and shrimp cocktail, but the chef, Jeffrey Arasi, talks of sous vide certification and French techniques, thus revealing his haute background, which includes New York’s Bouchon, Per Se, and Aureole. “We’re taking simple bar items to an elevation of fine dining,” he says. One of the three burgers on offer, for example, contains chopped corned beef inside the patty, which is topped with either Gruyère or Jarlsberg cheese and homemade Russian dressing and served on a rye brioche bun. “There is sauerkraut involved. [It’ll be called] a Reuben Burger,” Arasi says. Drinks available will include a dozen or two draft craft beers, a mixologist-curated cocktail list, and a selection of wines. “Not a lot of people go to a sports bar to drink wines,” Arasi says. Surely that’s only a year or two off.
The Local Time Is . . . This Fall
The owners of Chicago Cut Steakhouse plan to open the comfort-food spot Local (Hilton Suites, 198 E. Delaware Pl., no phone yet), in early November, a project we heard about in Crain’s. David Flom, one of the partners, gave us a taste of the menu, metaphorically speaking.
• Meatloaf, made from prime, aged beef scraps
• Ribs, sourced from Berkshire pigs from England, with Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce
• Pennsylvania Amish fried chicken and waffles
• Baked potato wrapped in Nueske’s bacon
• Shrimp chili
• Sushi-grade tuna with shaved strawberries and pistachios, ponzu sauce, and crystallized wasabi
• Shaved-coconut cake
• Oreo grasshopper pie
Being in a Hilton, Local will serve food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks, and Flom says several options, such as the chili with shrimp instead of heavier meats and homemade granola for breakfast, fit a healthier diet. Wait, was that “Local” or “Lo-Cal?”
“Hors d’oeuvres have always a pathetic interest for me; they remind me of one’s childhood that one goes through wondering what the next course is going to be like—and during the rest of the menu one wishes one had eaten more of the hors d’oeuvres.” —Hector Hugh Munro (1870–1916), British writer
The Tribune’s story about the owner of Earth First Farms becoming the principal partner of Heartland Café (7000 N. Glenwood Ave., 773-465-8005) also held news of the down-to-earth restaurant’s new chef: Colin Beaumier (Bistro Voltaire, Milwaukee’s Sanford). “I would call it thoughtful cuisine,” Beaumier says of Heartland’s menu, which will use Earth First produce such as Charentais melon. Often mistaken for a vegetarian restaurant because of its crunchy vibe, Heartland under Beaumier will maintain its dietary-restriction friendliness and spotlight local ingredients such as Illinois bison and homemade curiosities such as a lobster mole and cured meats. “[From a mulefoot pig,] I made pancetta and three different kinds of bacon,” Beaumier says. “We made a chorizo bacon. Someone who came in for brunch yesterday actually wanted to buy two pounds of it.” To take home, we presume. Although, as clichéd as it is, we do feel that way about bacon sometimes.
Get Your Goat
Speaking of new chefs, the Southwestern restaurant Masa Azul (2901 W. Diversey Ave., 773-687-0300) hired Jonathan Zaragoza to take over its kitchen, the Reader informed us. Zaragoza, turning 23 tomorrow, spent time in the kitchens of Trump Tower and Sepia, but he’s best known for his family’s storefront at 49th and Pulaski, Birrieria Zaragoza, where they serve only one dish: the roast goat called birria. (The Zaragozas recently opened a second location in Melrose Park.) “I can make other stuff for sure,” Zaragoza says. Among other things, he plans the pork dish cochinita pibil and guacamole with seasonal variations. He’s looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere created by owner Jason Lerner and the beverage director, Jenny Kessler: “It’s got a cool vibe. Nice background music. Two people can share dinner and talk and look into each other’s eyes,” he says. It’s atmosphere that’s getting goatier—Zaragoza is considering putting the birria on Masa Azul’s menu.
New Reviews: Antique Taco and GT Fish & Oyster
New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Both Antique Taco and GT Fish & Oyster previously were not listed. The new reviews appear in the September issue, on newsstands now.
Antique Taco (1360 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-687-8697). Mexican.
★½ (good to very good)
¢ (under $20 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
Vintage kitchen tools are part of the decor, but there’s nothing antique about this cheerful, supercasual storefront’s Mexican market food, which sparkles with fresh flavors. Order at the counter, sit down, and relax. The rosemary-infused margaritas come in milk-bottle pitchers, the guacamole is kicky, and the tacos are built with smartly sourced ingredients (tamarind-glazed pork, bacon, spinach, heirloom tomato salsa) as well as with impressive care. Finish with Abuelita’s Pop Tart stuffed with marshmallow and Mexican chocolate, or a lovely horchata milk shake.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.
GT Fish & Oyster (531 N. Wells St., 312-929-3501). Seafood.
★★ (very good)
$$ ($30–$39 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
The scenesters still rule Giuseppe Tentori’s 18-month-old slick small-plate restaurant, and good food means it’ll buzz a while longer. Oysters, plated classically and shucked well, run at trendy prices, but are half off after 10 p.m. The menu’s cold dishes are good, but hot dishes are great—especially the oyster po’ boy sliders and the just-different-enough clam chowder. Odd-sounding combinations such as a foie gras and shrimp terrine or soft-shell crab with popcorn sauce persuade you that they’re not really odd after all. A coconut sundae with French curry ice cream, on the other hand, does taste atypical—or, better said, special.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.
- Tuna tartare grabs the spotlight at Market House on the Square.
- Pollack has a brush—or would it be a brusque?—with bruschetta at Eclissi.
Follow Pollack on Twitter.
Things to Do
1. Give summertime fare a proper sendoff with a Sonoran hot dog and a salty caramel spiked shake (one of our favorites) at 25 Degrees (736 N. Clark St., 312-943-9700), which celebrates its first year by offering 25 percent off all food and drink from September 3 through 6, from open to close.
2. Channel Napa Valley via Crush Week, an ode to the grape harvest, held at Frasca Pizzeria & Wine Bar (3358 N. Paulina St., 773-248-5222) from September 3 to 9, and both locations of D.O.C. Wine Bar (2602 N. Clark St, 773-883-5101; 326 Yorktown Center, Lombard, 630-627-6666) from September 10 to 16. The revelry will include free wine tastings, grape-stomping competitions for kids, and cupcake-and-wine flights. Check online for further information about each event.
3. Mangia Italiano at Letizia’s Fiore (2456 N. California Ave., 773-342-4400), which slings its Roman-style, wood-fired pizza for $10 a pie for customers dining in on Tuesday nights through the end of September. Try the Del Bosco (tomato, smoked mozzarella, sausage, and cremini mushrooms, regularly $14) and wash it down with a Birra Moretti ($3 on Tuesdays).
- Covo Gyro Market (1482 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-626-2660), a fast-casual Wicker Park spot that uses organic, local, hormone-free ingredients for its chicken, pork, and classic lamb-beef gyros, opens September 4.
- Jellyfish (1009 N. Rush St., 312-660-3111), a 95-seat pan-Asian restaurant with a four-season glass atrium, aims to get the maki rolling on September 5.
- Local Root (601 N. McClurg Ct., 312-643-1145), a fast-casual eatery by day and a table-service restaurant by night, is looking to set out the welcome mat by September 5.
- La Sirena Clandestina (954 W. Fulton Market, no phone yet), where the chef John Manion (Mas, Branch 27) fuses Latin influences with local flavors, is shooting for a September 13 opening.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Erling Wu-Bower (Publican) has filled Avec’s chef de cuisine role, which was vacated by Koren Grieveson last week. . . . It’s curtain-call time at Charlie Trotter’s; Friday will be the Lincoln Park icon’s last hurrah. . . . We learned from The Stew that two paragons of haute cuisine, Alinea and New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, will each take up residence in the other’s space for a week this fall. Sell the car if you plan on going—dinner at either costs $495 a person before tax and tip. . . . Time Out Chicago reports that Gene Kato (Japonais) plans to open Charcoal Bar, an intimate Japanese cocktail lounge, below his small-plates concept, Sumi Robata Bar, which is slated to open later this year. . . . We hear that the chef/owner of a successful River North restaurant will throw his hat into the sweet, deep-fried ring and open a doughnut shop just a couple of blocks away from his home base. . . . Team Dish will not be laboring next week. We’ll be back on September 12.
* CORRECTION: In this week’s lead item, we originally stated incorrectly that Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser opened their first LM in March. The Quaissers actually opened their first LM in 2009. We have corrected the lead item and we apologize for the error.