Earth to Evanston
Here’s the dirt: Terra (2676 Green Bay Rd., Evanston; no phone yet), a new contemporary American small- and large-plate spot from the owners of Algonquin’s Montarra, is scheduled to land in three weeks or so. Montarra’s chef, Dave Perlick, will head the kitchen. “[Terra is] going to be high on the realm of creativity and using unique flavor combinations,” he says. Named for both the earth tones in the décor and the menu’s emphasis on ingredients from the field, Terra will serve small plates, such as flatbreads, cheeses, and charcuterie, as well as the fish tacos and oysters Rockefeller from Montarra, with prices ranging from about $5 to $11. Large plates, including coq au vin and braised veal cheeks with morel sauce, run $16 and up. Perlick says he has an eye on becoming the corporate chef of the multirestaurant business once the owners add a third establishment, but for now he’ll be keeping his feet on the Terra.
“Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying.” —Fran Lebowitz (1950–), American author
Back from a research trip to Italy, John des Rosiers (Inovasi, Wisma) named the chef for his upcoming Italian spot, Moderno (1850 2nd St., Renaissance Center, Highland Park; 847-433-8600): Phil Rubino, a veteran of Bin 36, Spiaggia, L2O, The Black Sheep, and Sofitel. Rubino’s family owns the Northwest Side’s Sicilian Bakery, a cannoli specialist. “They say cannolis put me through college,” Rubino says. He expects to have a draft of the menu ready by the end of the month, in preparation for an April or May opening. In other Moderno news, des Rosiers picked up a few design ideas in Italy that he’ll use to update the old-fashioned look of the space. “It was terrible. Oh, don’t say that. Never mind. It was terrible, and you can say that,” he says. At the Vatican museum, he saw a color called Pompeiian red, which the excavators of Pompeii rediscovered. “It was chipping, and I took a chip and stuck it inside my wallet,” des Rosiers says. He’s getting the color custom-made here. A paint scrap—not exactly the relic most tourists bring home from the Vatican.
Mirugai Meets Grill
Continuing a suburbs-heavy edition of Dish: Todoroki Hibachi & Sushi (526 Davis St., Evanston; 847-750-6565) opened in downtown Evanston in mid-January. Wendy Cheng, an owner, says the hibachi part of the restaurant does all the flashy stuff you’d expect. “Our chefs are trained to entertain our customers for a 40-minute performance,” she says. “They do tricks. Flipping the knife and a huge fire show. They light things and try to catch them. It’s a very magical show.” On the sushi side, the menu includes nigiri and sashimi, such as mirugai (giant clam), and maki, such as Sex on the Beach (shrimp tempura, cucumber, mango, and lobster salad served in a martini glass), and offers an all-you-can-eat sushi deal at lunch and dinner. The two sides of Todoroki are separate, though—we’re still waiting for the restaurant that will toss sushi into our mouths.
And only a block and a half away in downtown Evanston, Ash Patel and his wife, Bhavini, opened Soulwich (1634 Orrington Ave., Evanston; 847-382-2222) in early January, serving sandwiches using the flavors of southern and Southeast Asia. “We were out in California, and we’d seen a place called Curry Me Up,” Ash says. “We went in there and tried the food, and my wife had an idea to do something different but in a similar vein, as sandwiches.” Menu items include a Burmese coconut curry sandwich with raisin-based curry and a paneer fig sandwich, which has goat cheese, caramelized onions, and Mission figs slow-cooked in cloves, cinnamon, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. The Patels use a French-style ciabatta bread from Labriola. Someone should do the same thing for southeastern Europe. We’d buy a Turkey sandwich.
Ruben Mandujano is an auto mechanic. He’s also a sculptor and a painter, and in June, he’ll be a restaurant and gallery owner. Cafe Mulatte (2000 W. 18th St.; no phone yet), a counter-service spot in Pilsen near the National Museum of Mexican Art, will serve sandwiches such as meatball, ham, egg, and tuna, and the space upstairs will show artwork. “We want to create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and joyful,” says Mandujano, an immigrant from the Mexican state of Guanajuato. In that case, probably best not to incorporate auto repair into the new business. No one wants axle grease near the meatballs.
- Pollack’s taste buds celebrate the Chinese New Year at Lao Hunan.
- Carrots make a statement at Goosefoot.
- Pollack issues a PSA to the FOT (that’s “fans of tartare,” as if you didn’t know) following dinner at Slurping Turtle.
- Duck and orange make a perfect pair at Bistro Voltaire.
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Things to Do
1. Prime your stomach for some other bowl that’s happening this weekend: the inaugural BBQ Bowl, a rib cook-off at Club Lucky (1824 W. Wabansia St.; 773-227-2300) this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. A $25 ticket buys tastings from contestants representing Rub BBQ Company, Honky Tonk BBQ, Pork Shoppe, and others; a choice of two sides; and whiskey samples from Koval Distillery. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
2. Continue the super binge on Sunday. At Barn & Company (950 W. Wrightwood Ave.; 773-832-4000), the hearty 4 Quarter Meal (a $30 multicourse feast offered only during the game) comprises chili, pulled-pork sliders, nachos, barbecue ribs, smoked brisket, and wings. At Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash Ave.; 312-626-4444), your drink purchase nabs free appetizers—such as mini tacos and beef tenderloin sliders—during game time. Score!
3. Nosh half-price burritos from the comfort of your couch, thanks to Chipotle’s “Super Big Internationally Televised Professional Football Bowl Game Half-Price Party in a Box” promotion. Burrito eaters taking advantage of the SBITPFBGHPPIAB should log on to the Chipotle website on Sunday, download a Burritos by the Box order form, and place the order (a six-burrito minimum). The box comes with sides of sour cream, chips, medium-hot tomatillo and green chili salsa, and guacamole.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
At long last, Old Town pizzeria Mama Milano Pizza Bar is now open. . . . A contemporary American restaurant dubbed 720 South Bar & Grill has opened in the Hilton Chicago, with the chef Thomas Rice (Markethouse, Boston’s Clio) in the kitchen. . . . After a few months’ closure, Tuman’s Tavern in Ukrainian Village has reopened as Tuman’s Tap & Grill, and has added Monica Riley (Lokal, Hopleaf, Marigold) as executive chef. . . . The loungey River North Chinese spot Red Violet soft-opens tomorrow as a prelude to its official kickoff on February 6. . . . The retail and deli portions of Publican Quality Meats will debut on February 6, and the sandwich and butcher counters are expected to be up and running the following week. . . . Congratulations to Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster) and Amanda Rockman (The Bristol) for bringing home Jean Banchet awards for best chef and best pastry chef, respectively. Take a look at the full list of winners. . . . Blackbird chef de cuisine David Posey stepped into the kitchen for the week at Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C. Posey is one of ten chefs stepping up to fill in for their friend RJ Cooper, who had to temporarily leave his executive chef post to undergo open-heart surgery.