Pulling It All Together
After years of working for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Levy Restaurants (at Spiaggia), and NoMI, David Breo decided in March to gather his rosebuds and strike a new venture with longtime friends. The result, Gather (4539 N. Lincoln Ave., no phone yet), is scheduled to open in mid-December in the space that until recently housed the original LM. Breo plans contemporary American cuisine with everything made from scratch, including bread and cheese, in a relaxed ambiance. “A place to laugh and talk and enjoy your food,” he says. The chef Ken Carter (Charlie Trotter’s, Cibo Matto) will head the kitchen. “There is not going to be a lot of innovation—just really good food,” Breo says. “A brandade, a crudo dish, a flatbread, a lot of vegetable options, roasted cauliflower, pumpkin soup, a wonderful walleye dish.” He will aim for about a $33-per-person check average, with a glass of wine included. Perfect timing on opening: With Next’s Hunt menu debuting in January, diners can plan a Hunt-and-Gather weekend.
Calling Major Tom. Ground Control (3315 W. Armitage Ave., 773-772-9446) lifts off Tuesday in Logan Square, with an all-vegetarian menu including scratch tortillas and pastas, a seitan jibarito, and tofu battered with mustard and pale ale. The husband-wife team Dan Hanaway and Carrie Haase own the 45-seat restaurant. “We’ve both done front of house—everything you can think of—served, bartended. Not a lot of back-of-house experience, but we are just going for it,” Hanaway says. He and Haase, both vegetarians, developed a menu of food for diners like themselves. “One of my favorites is a wilted Swiss chard salad,” Hanaway says. “A really hot dressing, like bubbling hot. Shallots, lemon, olive oil; and then you pour that over the chard with Gorgonzola cheese. It slightly melts all into each other.” Sounds stellar. Best of luck to the starry-eyed pair.
Mumbai and By
In Hindi, sat means “seven” and taza means “fresh.” The business partners Ali Jetha and Nadim Vasanji blended those two words together to name Sataza (28 S. Clinton St., no phone yet), a Chipotle-style Indian restaurant scheduled to open in the next month or so. Sataza customers will choose from an Indian flatbread wrap, a rice bowl, or a salad, and then from chicken, beef, cheese, or chickpeas with various blends of seven spices. “It also refers to the seven chakras, the seven centers of energy within the body,” Jetha says. He says he hopes to keep Sataza’s food away from the spicy-heavy-oily axis around which a lot of Indian restaurant cuisine revolves, and if things go well, to expand into a chain. Each one a New Delhi, you might say.
“I am not a glutton—I am an explorer of food.” —Erma Bombeck (1927–1996), American humorist
Tumbling Trend over Trend
Roger Greenfield, the president of the parent company of Primebar and The Grillroom, gave us the highlights of his new West Loop–based Park Tavern (1645 W. Jackson Blvd., 312-243-4276), opening Monday. It’s the third location for the mini chain, after Rosemont and Dallas. (Not to be confused with the unrelated Tavern at the Park at Randolph and Michigan.)
- Animal Tots. “It’s almost a poutine, but with Tater Tots,” Greenfield says, “and home-smoked pulled pork and homemade gravy and cheese melted on top.”
- Beer can chicken, cooked in a smoker on top of an open Pabst Blue Ribbon
- A foot-long grilled cheese with foot-long bacon
- 40 draft beers and 40 by-the-glass wines
- 10,000 square feet of space and 300 seats
- Shuttles to the nearby United Center, with free parking at the restaurant
- Bacon doughnuts
A Tater Tot poutine and bacon doughnuts both sound like promising combinations of two trendy foods (although bacon may now be a fixture rather than a trend). Better than, say, fried chicken cupcakes.
Updated Review: Takashi
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. Takashi maintained its three-star rating in the December issue, on newsstands now.
Takashi (1952 N. Damen Ave., 773-772-6170). Contemporary French/Japanese.
$$$$ ($50-plus per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
Unaffected by his ascent to the exalted ranks of celebrity chef, Takashi Yagihashi continues to showcase the finest Asian fusion cuisine in the city. In classic yin-meets-yang style, he pairs the richest and most delicate of flavors on a single plate. Agnolotti stuffed with a sweet English pea purée might be set next to a cobia fillet dressed in a briny cider-caper reduction. Giant scallops and dense soba gnocchi are fizzed up with a foam of celery root and Parmesan. And Takashi’s signature “brown egg” dessert, served with a jam-smeared macaroon, elevates crème brûlée to Zen-like perfection. The man has finesse to spare, as do the accommodating servers, who know their way around the savvy wine and sake list.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.
Having recently parted ways with Filini, Chris Fantoni fired up the burners at his new head-chef job at 437 Rush (437 N. Rush St., 312-222-0101) early this month. To add to the prime steaks, he has already introduced tuna caponata, seafood spaghetti, short rib with polenta, a scallop-artichoke appetizer, and a seafood soup with lobster, bass, and clams. “[437 Rush’s owner, Phil Stefani,] is going to let me be more creative and wild,” Fantoni says—but not until after the New Year, when the restaurant’s busy holiday period has ended. So when everyone turns over a new leaf, they’ll turn the menu. New Leaf Salad—that has a nice ring to it.
- Love steak? Try Brazilian.
- Grilled squid at Andy Thai Kitchen is ready for its close-up, even if Pollack isn’t.
- Trend alert: Humble soft-serve is on the rise.
- The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook wows. Get it signed, plus try the featured pear tart at Tom Douglas’s free demo at Macy’s (111 N. State St., 312-781-1000) at noon on Thursday.
- Pollack got her money’s worth at Oliver’s Café in Bridgeport.
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On the Blog
Things to Do
1. Bag some burek for only $1 (normally $3.49) all day Thursday at City Fresh Market (3201 W. Devon Ave., 773-681-8600). Visitors to the City Fresh stand at the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St., 312-575-0230) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. can also enjoy a free phyllo dough–throwing demo from the resident expert Bojan Aleksic.
2. Build your own gourmet burger on the cheap at Rockit Burger Bar (3700 N. Clark St., 773-645-4400). For $14, “Rockit Scientists” can choose from exotic meats such as venison, alligator, and antelope and specialty sauces such as foie nut butter as part of the inaugural Burger Lab, running Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight.
3. Book a table for Two (1132 W. Grand Ave., 312-624-8363) tonight and enjoy three shareable dishes for $30, including one from the guest chef Chris Marchino (Spiaggia). After tonight, Two will offer a similar three-for-$30 special (absent Marchino) every Tuesday.
4. Read Chicago’s chief dining critic, Jeff Ruby, evaluating two new Asian Randolph Street spots, BellyQ and Embeya.
- The Telegraph crew opens Reno (2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-697-4234) right next door tonight. Wood-fired pizzas and Jeremy Quinn’s wine list aren’t the only draws—the wood-burning oven will also bake morning bagels for commuters.
- Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House (58 E. Oak St., 312-888-2499) opens this Saturday in the Esquire Theater building, with more than 500 seats and 32-ounce steaks.
- The second outpost of the veggie-lover’s haven Chicago Diner (2333 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-252-3211 opened in Logan Square today.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Craig Schoettler (formerly of Aviary) will be the new beverage manager at Drumbar. . . . After six pop-up dinner auditions for the chef job at Table, Donkey and Stick, the owners, Shin Thompson and Matt Sussman, have chosen Scott Manley (formerly of Vie and El Ideas). They plan to open in mid-December. . . . Pollack tweets that Stephanie Izard has hired on Mathew Rice (formerly of Nightwood) to be the new pastry chef at Girl & the Goat. . . . Carrie Nahabedian hopes to open Brindille, her new restaurant on Clark Street, on February 14. . . . Jack Weiss (Coco Pazzo, Coco Pazzo Café) promises “something kinda cool” for 212 East Ohio Avenue in spring 2013.