Haussmann Brasserie
We all love to talk about jinxed addresses—you know, those places where restaurants come and go like Woody Allen films. What about charmed addresses, like 305 South Happ Road in Northfield, which has been blessed with standouts such as Brasserie T, MK North, and now Jacky Pluton’s ambitious American brasserie, Haussmann? “From the location point of view, it’s one of the best spaces in the North Shore,” says Pluton. “But no one took advantage of it before.” He intends to do just that, hedging his bets by bringing in Thomas Rice, a veteran of Jean-Georges, to helm an accessible menu that includes meals as simple as the Pulp Fiction-inspired “royale with cheese” ($12.50). 305 S. Happ Rd., Northfield; 847-446-1133. –Jeff Ruby

Photography: Tyllie Barbosa; Food Styling: Christina Zerkis



Park 52

Jerry Kleiner, Chicago’s own restaurant drama king, can barely contain his excitement about his latest extravaganza, the all-American Park 52, set to open in March in Hyde Park. His exec chef, Chris Barron, has been with Kleiner for years and knows the drill: familiar food in a big splashy room that will attract hordes like teenyboppers to Hannah Montana. To hear Kleiner tell it, the wedge salad with crumbled blue cheese, bacon bits, and tomatoes will be the killer wedge of all time and the pork tenderloin is destined to be “incredible.” The setting is also pure JK: “A little woodsy, a little clubby. Velvety with drapes. Beautiful mosaic marble details.” You know, your typical cozy neighborhood hang. 5201 S. Harper Ave.; 773-241-5200. –Penny Pollack




After a self-imposed four-month hiatus, Michael Carlson’s iconoclastic, lovable BYO Schwa hit the ground not just running but also pirouetting. The 24-seat room was immediately full of Carlson devotees happily surrendering to the experience, which was stripped of schmooze and ceremony as much as ever, and as richly civilized. A ten-course prix fixe menu ($105) offered one mind-expanding treat after another, from jellyfish pad Thai to arctic char roe with pumpernickel blini and crystal clear rutabaga consommé to an astonishing dessert of parsnip-custard decked with ice-wine caramel and candied sweetbreads. That’s right—sweetbreads. Welcome back, Michael! 1466 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-252-1466. –Joanne Trestrail



Curio Cafe
Life got you down? If the Curio Cafe doesn’t pick you up, it’s hard to say what would. (A meal there, plus a massage?) The food is fresh and tasty, the room charmingly homey; it’s BYO ($3 corkage), and sisters/owners Claudia Pozuelos and Lucy Alvarez are the most hospitable hostesses ever. Breakfast and lunch are served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. Organic, free-range, hormone-free, and other irreproachable ingredients abound. We especially loved the plato tipico ($7.95), a well-accessorized platter of eggs, refried black beans, just-fried plantains, and tortillas. For dinner (served Fridays and Saturdays only) the menu tops out, pricewise, with churrasco (8 oz. for $15.95; 16 oz. for $20.95), a splendid presentation of grilled skirt steak, rice, beans, guacamole, tortillas, and two sauces. We were also delighted with our “picola” pasta ($11.95), a mountain of penne in a mellow sauce of red and yellow peppers, spinach, and portobello mushrooms. Entrées come with soup or salad; keep an eye out for the gingery carrot soup, a real winner. Lightly caramelized flan makes a fine dessert, should you still have room. 3400 N. Lawndale Ave.; 773-463-2233. –Joanne Trestrail