New York’s Loss . . .
Dish has learned that the chef at Brasserie Ruhlmann, the offshoot of a classic NYC brasserie/raw bar opening opposite Japonais (600 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-822-9600) in early October, will be Christian Delouvrier. A native of Gascony, Delouvrier is a veteran of New York standouts such as Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, Lespinasse, and Miami’s La Goulue. He has published a highfalutin cookbook (Mastering Simplicity, Wiley, 2004) and has worked in topnotch restaurants from Montreal to the Bahamas. This time around, his bosses are the New York Brasserie Ruhlmann partners, Jean Denoyer, Miae Lim, and Rick Wahlstedt. (Lim and Wahlstedt also happen to run Japonais.) You may remember Delouvrier as the subject of this famous 2005 quote in The New York Times from Ducasse, who let Delouvrier go shortly after the Times had lowered Ducasse’s rating from four stars to three: “I am at the top in Paris, in Monte Carlo and in Tokyo, and I cannot remain with three stars in New York. I knew we could not regain four stars with Christian Delouvrier at the helm, and I had to make important changes in the dynamic of the kitchen.” Ouch.
We’ll Be There
You may have read in The Tribune’s food blog, “The Stew,” that Roland Liccioni (formerly of Le Français) will be back in the kitchen, this time at Old Town Brasserie Market (1209 N. Wells St.; 312-943-3000), opening next month. Liccioni, who has garnered more stars over the years than an army general, has big plans for the restaurant, owned by Mike Mokri and Bob Djahanguiri (Toulouse). “It’ll be more than brasserie food,” Liccioni says. “Some very, very good food, some signature dishes from Le Français, of course, and also some Pan-Asian fusion food. That I always liked.”
A Dear John Letter
Yay. Tavern at the Park (130 E. Randolph St.; 312-552-0070), the grill from John Hogan and the Keefer’s group, finally opened, joining Park Grill and The Gage as the go-to places near Millennium Park. Imagine our surprise when the BLT salad boasting blue cheese, apple-wood-smoked bacon, and avocado turned out to be a pile of iceberg lettuce shredded angel-hair thin and sprinkled with microscopic bits of cheese and bacon. (Let’s just ignore the avocado slices with brown edges and sickly sweet Thousand Island dressing.) We plowed on with herbed chicken fondue, rotisserie shards drowning in sauce that supposedly contained Fontina and garlic. Couldn’t prove it by us. Yes, the place is new, but the skinny fries that came with the Tavern teaser sliders were the best bite in sight.
“A good eater must be a good man; for a good eater must have a good digestion, and a good digestion depends upon a good conscience.” –Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), English statesman
Niu Day Rising
Check out the late-night lounge menu at Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge (332 E. Illinois St.; 312-527-2888), which opened in the short-lived Max & Benny’s space next to the AMC Theatres. “We do fusion-style chicken nuggets, very small pieces of breaded chicken spiced with peppers and scallions,” says partner Cherie Cheung. “But my favorite so far is the shishito peppers. It’s basically a fried jalapeño pepper stuffed with scallop, crab, and cream cheese.” The full menu drifts from China to Japan to Korea and Thailand, which raises our suspicions, but the cool minimalist décor is definitely a better fit than that of a previous tenant.
He Said It
“I took my model from the experts. I took my kids to Disney. Treat the kids with a little bit of attention, and the next thing you know they aren’t running around the restaurant and screaming.” –Jim Bergeron, on his child-friendly focus at Tessa’s (16 W. Jefferson St., Naperville; 630-357-9200), a new Italian bistro that offers pizza, filets, and French sparkling lemonade for kids
Lovely (1130 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-572-4766), a 30-seat bakery/café that specializes in four-inch “mini-pies,” is run by two French Pastry School alums, Gina Howie and Brooke Dailey. “We always have apple, peach cobblers, and pecan pies in the case,” says Howie. “And we rotate in other flavors, like cherry and pumpkin.” One other bonus: Lovely brings in bagels from the legendary H & H in New York. “We get them parbaked,” says Howie. “So they are baked fresh every morning from their parbaked state.”
Emilio Morrone, an owner of the brand-new Gelato Uno (6625 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn; 708-749-8866), has gone to ridiculous lengths in the past year to get the place open. “We had people come in from Italy to train us,” he says. “One is still here to make sure everything is going right.” Morrone and his partners (Salerno’s) have more than 100 different gelato possibilities, but offer only 16 at a time (“That’s all our case will hold”), made fresh daily on the premises. Then there’s the menu of panini, arancini, panzerotti, pastries, and biscotti, and the ambitious décor, all marble and granite and chandeliers. “It belongs on Michigan Avenue, not in Berwyn,” says Morrone.
“We really didn’t have a place that we enjoyed going,” says Kathleen Marada of her partner at The Cellar Bistro (132 N. Hale St., Wheaton; 630-653-6299), Nick Lewis. “We don’t like to eat large portions of food, and we both like healthy, organic food.” So the two of them, who also run a book manufacturing facility in Carol Stream, will unveil their cozy small-plates spot on August 22nd. All the meats are hormone free, many of the wines and liquors are organic, and an array of imported cheeses is on hand. Typical menu item: “Inferno shrimp” with a jalapeño seasoning served on a bed of greens with Italian sourdough and a creamy chipotle chili sauce. “It’s easy-to-eat food,” says Marada. “Things you can eat with your fingers.”
Things to Do
1. Be amazed that restaurants still hold events like this one on August 19th at Carlucci (1801 Butterfield Rd., Downers Grove; 630-512-0990).
2. Between now and August 24th, buy a $20 pie made with locally grown fruit from 312 Chicago (136 N. LaSalle St.; 312-696-2420). Seventeen of your dollars will go to Share Our Strength, which is trying to end childhood hunger in America.
3. Watch the guys from Flight of the Conchords pretending to be French in a grocery store.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
La Poupée Café (3706 N. Southport Ave.; 773-880-9088), a budget-friendly breakfast/lunch/dinner spot, opened recently. . . . The fourth area McCormick & Schmick’s (3001 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook) opens next week. . . . Anyone know anything about Arirang Korean Restaurant (801 Civic Center Dr., Niles; 847-966-7072), which may or may not be part of a franchise of Korean barbecues that exist in Australia, Hong Kong, London, and various American cities? We got hung up on. . . . Congratulations to Charlie Trotter’s, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on August 17th. . . . Not to be outdone is Le Titi de Paris, which turns 35 this month.