So Is It Actually “Ocho”?
A former auto-body shop in far west West Town will soon house 8 (2501 W. Chicago Ave.; no phone yet), the latest project from Hubie Greenwald (Motel). “[It’s] street food inspired by what you find in and around Buenos Aires,” Greenwald says, pointing to pizza, empanadas, pastas, and salads. He hopes for a place that can offer an after-work glass of wine, then dinner with the kids, and then a late-night cocktail, in an atmosphere of “tattered elegance.” Ingredients will include house-made mozzarella, fresh empanada dough, and, following in the footsteps of Greenwald’s stepmother, homegrown tomatoes. “They call her the Tomato Lady of San Diego,” he says. “Her tomatoes are unbelievable. I’m calling her for seeds.” As for the name (or, as it were, number) of the restaurant, it’s both the digit sum of the address and a number indicating instant prosperity in Chinese culture. It also looks like a snowman, but Greenwald somehow didn’t mention that.
“I am a gourmet. You are a gourmand. He is fat.” –Craig Brown (1957– ), British writer
Good news for North Centerites: Carol Wallack has a new concept for the space that will be vacated when Sola moves downtown to 340 North Clark Street. Wallack plans to keep the Hawaiian and Asian touches but simplify the food and lower the prices at ‘Ohana (3868 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-327-3868), named for the word “family” in Hawaiian. Tablecloths are out; flat-screen TVs are in. The old Sola shuts down in mid-October, ‘Ohana opens in November, and the new Sola rolls out in February.
Sometime in late August or early September, La Tache will shut down for a week or two and then reopen—on September 10th if all goes well—as Vincent (1475 W. Balmoral Ave.; 773-334-7168). “We are going to Dutch it up,” says Joncarl Lachman, a chef/partner at Vincent who lives in the neighborhood and has always loved La Tache. (Lynn Malec, who owns La Tache, is also a partner at Vincent.) “When I first moved to Chicago, I peeked in the windows when [La Tache] was being built and thought, This is the restaurant I would love to have.” Vincent will offer a bistro menu with Harvest Moon Farms produce and Dutch influences, including five preparations of Prince Edward Island moules frites every day, jenevers on a gin list, and vlaai, which Lachman tells us is a southern Dutch dessert that’s like a French tart, but yeastier. Also appearing will be dishes that have previously been served at Lachman’s other place, HB Home Bistro—mustard soup, for instance. When we try Vincent, we’re going to have everyone pay for just his or her own food to get into the spirit.
Out of the Loop
After an eviction last October sent the decades-old Loop lunch veteran Nick’s Fishmarket packing, we thought Nick’s owner, Scott Suckow, had decamped for good to Rosemont, the other Nick’s location. In fact, he was looking around for a new city spot all along, finding it in River North (specifically, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza; no phone yet). After a few enhancements to the 200-seat former Bluprint space to draw in the business lunch crowd, the rechristened Nick’s Fishmarket Grill and Bar is set to open in late September. The concept is dressed down somewhat: bare wood tables instead of white tablecloths, entrées costing closer to $19 than $45, no tuxedos, and no tableside deboning. Suckow will give hiring preference to Nick’s staffers past and present for the new spot. Here’s hoping the deboning team is just as successful in the kitchen.
What I Did on My Summer Vacation
One Sixtyblue (1400 W. Randolph St.; 312-850-0303), a modern American mainstay in the West Loop, gets a face-lift over its summer break, from August 1st to 15th. Renovations will increase full-service seating in the bar area and create an outdoor patio on Randolph Street. “It’s not a concept change, just a nice refresh, adding some elements that are relevant today,” says David Zadikoff, a partner. The restaurant has also gone hyperlocal by gardening in the parking lot, turning out kale, radishes, tomatoes, sweet peas, and cabbage, among other things. If everything goes according to plan, it will reopen August 16th, still in the shank of Chicago patio weather, with average evening temperatures at least in the sixtyreds.
Things to Do
1. Sup on Sunday, August 1st, at the Sunday Supper at Vie (4471 Lawn Ave., Western Springs; 708-246-2082), from 2:30 to 7 p.m. Adults get a choice of soup or salad and choice of entrée (our pick: Dietzler Farms Italian beef sandwich) for $25. Kids get fruit and either grilled cheese with corn or Gunthorp Farms chicken tenders priced according to the kid’s age—i.e., $7 for a 7-year-old.
2. Try the summer prix fixe available through September 27th at both locations of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (25 E. Ohio St.; 312-329-9463 and 960 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire; 847-793-0333). For $39.95, diners get soup or salad, fish or beef Wellington (here called beef Flemington), and dessert.
3. Eat free food at the Free Festa for the Neighborhood at La Trattoria del Merlo (1967 N. Halsted St.; 312-951-8200), from 6 to 8 p.m. on August 4th. The restaurant is offering samples of its new Italian small-plates menu to anyone who shows up.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
A lactose-free, no-cholesterol ice cream shop called Gyood (2048 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-360-8810) opened July 21st. . . . The much-ballyhooed Gaztro-Wagon, a food truck serving “naan-wiches,” hits the streets Friday, stopping in Millennium Park, Lake View, and Lincoln Square. Specific locations will appear in the wagon’s Twitter feed. . . . Another branch of Yolk (355 E. Ohio St.; 312-822-9655) is scheduled to open soon—probably Tuesday. “But it never works out the way you plan it,” says Taki Kastanis, the owner. . . . Lillie’s Q (1856 W. North Ave.; 773-772-5500) opens July 29th. . . . Lula Cafe (2537 N. Kedzie Blvd.; 773-489-9554) is temporarily closed because of basement flooding in last weekend’s megastorm. Check Lula’s Facebook page for updates. . . Smoke Shack (800 W. Altgeld St.) is closed. Just when barbecue is really taking off, we’re sad to see a good joint shut down.