This One Goes to II
The impatient metalheads waiting either for a table or for food at the heavy-metal burger bar Kuma’s Corner, speculating about when the long-hungered-for second location would ever materialize, now need to wait only a couple more months, which is about equal to how long the wait felt in the first place. Kuma’s Too (666 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-472-2666), a location surely chosen in part for its bitchin’ address, is scheduled to replace the Counter by February. With 73 seats, KT will be larger than the flagship. As for whether it will duplicate the hard-rock look, Michael Cain, the owner, says, “It’s going to be cute, I guess.” Here’s a rule of thumb for when it opens: If the line at the original stretches past Ravenswood, you’re better off turning around and going to the new place.
“Dinnertime is the most wonderful period of the day and perhaps its goal—the blossoming of the day. Breakfast is the bud.” —Novalis, née Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (1772–1801), German poet, author, and philosopher
Ain’t We Got Fun?
Hot on the heels of last month’s opening of Park Tavern in the West Loop and the forthcoming Central Standard at Kinzie and Wells (now with the former Topaz chef Ryan Wombacher wielding the scepter-spatula), Restaurants-America plans to open Chica Loca (1010 S. Delano Ct., no phone yet) in June in Roosevelt Collection, the South Loop development with the Icon movie theatre. The company’s president, Roger Greenfield, characterizes the 200-seater, with David Reyes (Mia Francesca) as chef, as “fun Mexican.” Great—we’ve been looking forever for a restaurant where we can play Mientras el Lobo No Está.
She Said It
“I want people to grab cookies from here and pretend they are theirs.” —Liz Isaacs, the owner of Lizzie’s Bake Shoppe (2136 W. Chicago Ave., 312-405-8212), a new bakery that opened December 3 (and will be closed for the holidays December 24 through January 4). Lizzie’s sells from-scratch croissants, doughnuts, six-inch cakes, “cutie pies” (pies folded up like round calzones), and “cruffles” (truffle-like one-bites in flavors such as gingersnap rum).
An old food adage asserts that you’ll always have a special place in your stomach for the pizza joint from your childhood. At Homeslice (938 W. Webster Ave., no phone yet), scheduled to open by February 1, the Oregon native Clay Hamilton plans to re-create the pizza recipe from a place he loves in his home state, with light, fluffy, crunchy, thin-but-not-cracker-thin crust, baked in a gas-fired brick oven. He also is carting in Oregon wood to conjure a “retro hip” log cabin atmosphere, he says. With all the kids likely to incubate their own pizza nostalgia at Homeslice, maybe Hamilton isn’t re-creating as much as forging a link in the great chain of pizza.
Updated Review: Tallgrass
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. Tallgrass increased its rating from one and a half to three stars in the January issue, on newsstands now.
Tallgrass (1006 S. State St., Lockport, 815-838-5566). Contemporary.
$$$$ ($50-plus per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
Tallgrass is tall again. After a spell of coasting in the lovely 19th-century canal town setting, Robert Burcenski’s refined cooking is rejuvenated. On his three- to seven-course menus ($48 to $88), you may find sautéed black grouper on barley with walnuts and raisins in green apple verjus, roast capon in porcini cream with root vegetables, and magnificent crisp sweetbreads in Dijon sauce with pickled grapes and savoy cabbage. Stellar desserts, cheeses, and a fine wine list that leans toward pinot noirs boost the sophistication.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.
The World Is Your Oiistar
“We’re calling ourselves new American cuisine. That is, with a Korean-French-Italian kind of fusion,” says Patrick Kracunas, the sous chef at Oiistar (1385 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-360-8791), which opened early this month. Some examples from the menu, designed by the chef Sunny Yim:
- French kimchi soup. Like French onion soup but with kimchi instead of onions.
- Tuna carpaccio, with artichoke, quail egg, black sesame paste, and daikon sprouts
- Crème brûlée with espresso “caviar” made by mixing calcium chloride into espresso so it gels, “like Dippin’ Dots,” Kracunas says.
Yim’s specialty, though, is ramen, for which he makes the noodles in-house—an uncommon art. “They’re very thin, like angel hair,” Yim says. “Even after ten minutes in hot broth, you can still enjoy the texture.” His favorite ramen item on the menu is the Oiimen, built on a pork backbone broth simmered for 18 hours, in an authentic Japanese style. That sounds like the answer to a puzzle: How do you make an eclectic menu even more eclectic? Add something purely authentic.
- After many courses, Elizabeth hits a hole in one.
- Fast-casual fare garners upscale attention at Bel 50.
- Moo Ping sings at TAC Quick Thai.
- Pollack hears that Zealous is dimming forever after New Year’s Eve.
Follow Pollack on Twitter.
Things to Do
- Celebrate the Coffee Studio’s (5628 N. Clark St., 773-271-7881) five-year anniversary in Andersonville all day Friday with free cupcakes, plus 5 percent off everything else.
- Count down to New Year’s Day with Four Star Restaurant Group’s brunch, offered every day from December 26 to January 1, even on the so-called workdays. Frasca, Crosby’s Kitchen, and both Dunlay’s locations will serve up dishes like breakfast pizza and Nutella-stuffed French toast, all for around $10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call restaurants for full details.
- Follow Pollack on Twitter as she safaris in South Africa this month.
- After months of delays and a couple of false alarms, Glunz Tavern (1202 N. Wells St., 312-642-3001) unlocked its doors yesterday.
- Little Market Brasserie (10 E. Delaware Pl., 312-640-8141) is offering limited seating, reservation-only, as of Monday. The full public launch will be January 18.
- Table, Donkey and Stick (2728 W. Armitage Ave., 773-486-8525) will drop the shtick and prop open the door tomorrow, metaphorically. First come, first served.
- Alpana Singh will debut the hotly anticipated Boarding House’s (720 N. Wells St., 312-280-0720) third-floor dining room tomorrow. The first-floor bar and second-floor private dining room opened last week.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
The Market House on the Square team is closing its other Lake Forest restaurant, Bank Lane Bistro, to open MH Fish House. The seafood spot, also in the hands of Market House chef Dominic Zumpano, will open December 29. . . . Northern City, a Bridgeport storefront specializing in northern Chinese cuisine, opened in November. The owner, Meichun Chen, says the most popular dish from the 300-plus-item menu is lamb with cumin. . . . We heard whispers last year and not a peep since, but it looks like Uptown really will be the first Chicago location for Sonic, the burger chain with those commercials featuring Second City improvisers. . . . Hashbrowns is coming to Division and Wells in spring 2013. . . . The popular Buena Park coffee shop and whipped-cream-measurement namesake Dollop will open a second location in Streeterville in the new year, if all goes well. . . . Barring Friday’s rumored Mayan apocalypse, Dish will return on Thursday, January 3, and go back to its regular Wednesday schedule after that. Happy New Year to all!
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