Into The Wilde
Next from Martin Cournane, the man behind The Kerryman (661 N. Clark St.; 312-335-8121), comes Wilde Bar & Restaurant (3130 N. Broadway; 773-244-0404). His 185-seat “upscale pub food” spot will open November 12th with Alan Katz (Blue Mesa, Cullen’s) as chef. “Alan adds that extra flair to those bar-food favorites [wings, meat loaf, fish and chips, et cetera],” says Cournane. He even serves lemon syllabub, an obscure, centuries-old English dessert that Cournane describes as “white wine, sugar, and lemon made into a syrup, mixed into whipped cream, and served in a glass with sugar biscuits.” Toss in the pub’s 12 draft beers, two fireplaces, and two stained-glass ceiling domes, and you’ve got something worth checking out.
“A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting.” –Abraham Maslow (1908-70), American psychologist and philosopher
Stretch Run (644 N. LaSalle St.; 312-644-4477), a sports restaurant/bar with live race wagering, opens November 21st in River North. “It’ll have about 250 monitors, all over the place,” says Bill Marovitz, a partner. And the food? “I do not want this to be sports bar food,” he says. “I want this to be the kind of food that I would take my friends, my relatives, anybody. And they could get a great slab of ribs, steaks, great fresh fish, hand-cut fries, Manny’s corned beef and pastrami, Kobe beef burgers. Not all fried junk with filling on the inside like you get at most sports bars.”
6 Questions (and 6 laconic answers) with Food Network star Bobby Flay (New York’s Mesa Grill and Bolo)
D: How did an Irish American guy get into Southwestern cooking?
BF: Irish food doesn’t have much flavor. I think that’s what I was missing my whole life.
D: Any plans to open a place in Chicago?
BF: No. Chicago has so many local chefs; I think it’s a difficult city for a chef from out of town to succeed.
D: What have you got against fiddlehead ferns?
BF: The New York Times did an article on ingredients that chefs don’t like. I had to come up with something, so I said lentils. But it’s true: I think fiddleheads have zero flavor.
D: What’s your favorite cookbook?
BF: I like Judy Rodgers’s Zuni Cafe Cookbook [W. W. Norton, 2002].
D: Where did you celebrate your 40th birthday?
BF: I celebrated at home. That’s the one night of the year that my wife cooks for me.
D: Is she a good cook?
BF: She’s a good home cook.
Pour On the Charm
Prosecco (710 N. Wells St.; 312-951-9500), a 100-seat upscale comfort food spot from Stefania and Mark Sparacino (Sparacino Ristorante) and Kathryn Sullivan Alvera (former owner of Narcisse and Domaine), opens later this month in one of those familiar spaces that keep turning over (Xel-Há, Meztiso, Swank, SWK, Centro). The décor has been lightened up; Alvera calls it “kind of Venetian.” The menu leans to pastas and seafood, plus a few bonuses. “We’ve put in a bar where we will serve a large variety of carpaccios and crudi, and some tramezzini [light finger sandwiches],” says Alvera. “And there will be a cart for sampling different Proseccos.” As for the jinxed space, Alvera has these words of wisdom: “Some spots make it, in spite of themselves. Other wonderful places don’t make it. One thing’s for sure: You have to be nice to people.”
“When I opened Toulouse, I was very high-budget, so we didn’t buy milk because no one drank it. So one day, one guy ordered a glass of milk, and we sent someone to Treasure Island. The guy got stuck in a line at Treasure Island. So [the customer] said, ‘How long does it take to get a glass of milk?’ I told him the truth.” –Bob Djahanguiri (Old Town Brasserie), in Mike Nagrant’s entertaining “Chefs on the Grill” interview.
Chant (1509 E. 53rd St.; 773-955-2200), a 90-seat contemporary Asian restaurant from the owners of Hyde Park’s popular Noodles Etc. (1333 E. 57th St.; 773-684-2801), opened last month and has been busy ever since. “We don’t have the normal things you would see on a Chinese menu,” says Clair Smith, a manager. “No egg foo young or chop suey. But we do have a clay pot prawn dish that’s fabulous. And pumpkin coconut soup.” Smith describes the décor as a “cozy home feeling,” and promises live music on weekends in the future.
Rant of the Week
Ruby here. The other day, a friend asked what my favorite weekend brunch spot was, and I realized: I hate brunch. The whole tradition that we follow like robots: rising early on Sunday, packing into a crowded entryway, vestibule, or sidewalk, to wait for a table where an overextended server will bring me an omelet I could’ve made myself? This isn’t dining. It’s compulsory eating, and I want my time and calories back. What is the allure here? Is it the ritual? The camaraderie? The hangover? Nothing against restaurants that provide brunch—nor those that do their best to add a little flair to it, like Orange, M. Henry, and Toast—but I’ll sleep in. And I’ll make my own French toast, thanks.
Things to Do
1. Attend the “Simply Manischewitz Live Cook-Off” at Macy’s Culinary Center (111 N. State St., 7th floor) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on November 8th. Free kosher lunch!
2. Avoid Harry & David’s new Moose Munch Babaloo Barbecue (with smoked almonds and pretzels) Snack Mix. They are raunch-ola incarnate.
3. Watch the trippiest Burger King commercial ever made.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Moonstruck Chocolate Café is still waiting on an inspection before it opens its new location at Oakbrook Center. Should be next week. . . . In Condé Nast Traveler’s November issue, Alan Richman picks 20 of the most influential dishes made in the United States, which includes Charlie Trotter’s goat cheese, asparagus, and balsamic vinegar terrine, and Frontera Grill’s seviche Fronterizo. . . . Riques Regional Mexican Food (5004 N. Sheridan Rd.; 773-728-6200) is under new ownership, but has the same menu. . . . Congrats to Niche (14 S. Third St., Geneva; 630-262-1000), whose chef, Jeremy Lycan, and sommelier, Jody Richardson, have been invited to cook at The Beard House, New York’s base for the James Beard Foundation, in January 2008. . . . Last week, we took what some saw as a cheap shot at a campaign for “GERD-Friendly Meal Makeovers” aimed at those with acid reflux. We apologize to Dinner By Design, Ted Allen, and any readers who suffer from GERD.