Trenchermen (2039 W. North Ave.; no phone yet), the long-awaited project from the former Blackbird chef Michael Sheerin, took on a clearer shape this week. Patrick Sheerin, Michael’s brother and until recently the chef at The Signature Room at the 95th, has joined the project as a partner and co-chef, and the location, formerly Spring, has been fixed. (Both of those details first appeared in an Eater post.) As for the cuisine, Michael Sheerin says, “[it shows] a lot of influences, but I would say we are using familiar flavors and presenting them in unexpected ways.” As an example, he cites Big Red ham, cured and spiced with cinnamon and cayenne, like the chewing gum, plated with a side of pickle tots, which are Tater Tots that incorporate pickles. Although the menu won’t be categorized as small and large plates, portion sizes increase with price, and no single item exceeds $25. The space will be split into a 60-seat bar area and a 90-seat dining room and will show early-1900s factory influences in the décor. And it’s a return of sorts for the Sheerins, who worked together in 1999. “Patrick was the poissonier at Everest, and I was the commis,” Michael says. “That was our night job. In the morning, I was the butcher at Toque, and he was the pastry chef, so we worked all day together.” Presumably they’re not going even farther back in time and moving in with their parents.
“Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards in order to be happy. Let us therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and on our plate.” —Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière (1758–1837), many-named French author credited with establishing a new genre of modern gastronomic writing
Far from Ramen
Dining on a college campus usually tends toward mystery meat and instant mashed potatoes. Waterleaf (425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn; 630-942-6881), the three-week-old restaurant on the grounds of the College of DuPage, has fine-dining aspirations and a French chef, Jean-Louis Clerc. “We are doing contemporary French with some Italian flair and a little American classic in the middle,” Clerc says. For example, he recommends the scallop salad appetizer, and for an entrée, the snapper with smoked eggplant and lemongrass-coconut broth or the filet mignon with red wine reduction. Two nights a week, the culinary students at the college take over, serving international cuisine on Tuesdays and classic French food on Wednesdays. At all other times, the restaurant is professionally staffed. The McAninch Arts Center is close by, and the new boutique hotel the Inn at Water’s Edge is even closer—in the same building—in case Glen Ellyn seems so far away that you figure you might as well stay overnight. By the way, the mystery meat was chuck roast.
Annotations on Storefront Company
Storefront Company (1941 W. North Ave.; 773-661-2609), a Wicker Park spot serving what the chef calls “farm cuisine/modern cooking,” is scheduled to open by December. Here are a few facts about the restaurant, with notes:
• The chef is Bryan Moscatello.
- Moscatello was a Food & Wine best new chef in 2003, in the same class as North Pond’s Bruce Sherman.
- Most recently, he worked as executive chef of Washington, D.C.’s Stir Food Group, overseeing four restaurants. “It was fantastic, but I missed being in the kitchen on the line,” he says.
• The project’s partners are Moscatello, John Dalesandro, Steve Harris, and Claudia Gassel.
- Dalesandro worked the front of the house at Water Grill in Los Angeles and Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills.
- Harris and Gassel also own Debonair Social Club, around the corner from Storefront Company.
- Harris partnered with Suzy Crofton on Watusi in 1998.
• The menu has three sections: share, firsts, and seconds.
- Shares run from $6 to $12.
- Firsts start at about $8 and range up to $14, which buys Rabbit Rossini.
- Seconds are entrées and range from $19 to $26. “[Storefront will offer] a little evolution on the farm-to-table movement,” Moscatello says. “I want to evolve it. I think it can be a little more refined on the plate.”
As was first reported in The Stew, the north side of Andersonville neighborhood American spot Acre will be carved off to open Ombra (5310 N. Clark St.; 773-506-8600), an Italian bar serving pastries and coffee in the morning, small plates (cicchetti) in the afternoon and evening, and light entrées after 4 p.m. Ombra, whose name means “shadow” in standard Italian and “a small glass of white wine” in slang, will feature a recycled aesthetic designed by Davide Nanni of Salvage One, who also did Ruxbin and Simone’s. Nanni’s crew includes ex-offenders learning a trade under the aegis of Safer Foundation. Timothy Rasmussen, one of the owners, says they hope to open in December—appropriately, when daylight is lowest and shadows longest.
A Dream Conferred
The Ricobene family opened its first namesake fast-food restaurant in 1946, and soon thereafter, the twin Ricobene brothers, Sam and Frank, introduced the famous Ricobene’s breaded steak. “It was always a dream of theirs to open an upscale Italian restaurant,” says Dave Creamer, the general manager of their dream realized, Gemellato Ristorante (258 W. 26th St.; 312-706-8081), open about a month now. “Frank passed away when the building got started three years ago,” Creamer says. “Sam passed away last Monday, but he saw the place open.” Gemellato occupies the first floor of the building, an event space the second, and 260 Sports Bar & Grill the third. The chef for the whole complex is David Wennerlyn, who ran the South Loop’s Exposure Tapas. The menu tends toward the classics, such as bruschetta, calamari, pastas, and things parmigiana and Marsala. Along with the house-made grilled rum cake dessert, Wennerlyn highlights the veal chops Milanese with arugula. Breaded veal seems a fitting tribute to the passed-on breaded-steak entrepreneurs.
- Identity issues aside, Taverna 750’s mozzarella alla filo is a winner.
- The pizza at Wells Brothers merits a 150-mile roundtrip to Racine, Wisconsin.
- Pollack says the scallops measure up at Café des Architectes.
- Pollack leaves Mon Ami Gabi with serious garlic breath.
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On the Blog
- Pizza pro Nella Grassano plans to fire up a 1,200-degree wood-burning oven of her own in Lincoln Park.
Things to Do
1. Join the quaternary-anniversary jubilation at La Madia (59 W. Grand Ave.; 312-329-0400), where they’re celebrating with a quartet of $4 pizzas (such as a stunner topped with fennel sausage and sweet onion). The special runs through Friday and is available during lunch hours (11:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) only.
Magnolia Bakery’s chocolate swirl mini cheesecake 2. See if you agree with Pollack that the chocolate swirl mini cheesecake at Magnolia Bakery (Block 37 Shops, 108 N. State St.; 312-346-7777) is worth a $6 splurge.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
Props to Michael Gebert for being commissioned the new Grub Street Chicago editor. . . . This week’s noshworthy newcomers include the Lillie’s Q Meat Mobile, a barbecue-dealing food truck that hit the pavement yesterday; Vera Chicago, Mark and Elizabeth Mendez’s West Loop wine bar, set to be unveiled tonight; Foodease Market, the sprawling, newly expanded emporium inside Water Tower Place, scheduled to open tomorrow; Rosebud Italian Country House & Pizzeria, a Deerfield branch of the local chain, sprouting up October 24; and Butcher & the Burger, the long-awaited meat mecca from Allen Sternweiler, unlocking its doors October 25.