You Gotta Like . . .
. . . a little place like Bien Trucha Restaurante (410 W. State St., Geneva; 630-232-2665). The month-old BYO from Ricardo García-Rubio, who ran Tia Maria’s in Geneva for 20 years, has room for no more than 15 customers at a time, and does everything made-to-order. “Our specialty is tacos,” says García-Rubio of his mini-menu. “They’re like four bites a taco, and we put four on a plate, do different peppers and different salsa for every taco. And we marinate our pork for a day in adobo made with chile guajillo and ancho pepper and orange juice.” Yum. Even the name is adorable: It means “good trout.” “That fish, when it swims, is looking from one side to the other all the time,” says García-Rubio. “Smart. Awake. Alert. So we are very aware of things now.”
Bound by Sugar
Opening next month in the old Grazer’s Gourmet space is Sweet Collectives (5333 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-293-0888), a deliciously named bakery with an interesting angle. “I will be sharing the space with three other female pastry chefs [Alison Bower, Lauren Pett, and Elizabeth Madden],” says Cathay Rayhill, one of the owners. “We are going to open the retail space sort of as a collective, like an artist’s studio.” Rayhill (Vanille), who graduated from the French Pastry School, says gourmet ice cream, handcrafted chocolates, wedding cakes, and other goodies will be available—and pastry geeks will be encouraged to ask all the questions they want. “You can interact with the people making the treats,” she says. “We will all be actively involved.”
The Ever-Quotable Jerry Kleiner
“I was going to call it Hyde Park Grill but I got protest letters from people in the neighborhood. They hate it. I’ve had tastings and walk-throughs, and they love the place and they love the food, but I got people saying to me, ‘It’s a shit boring name. All of your places have cool names like Red Light, like Gioco, like Marché. It’s been 50 years since we had anything here with any style or energy.’ And I got to thinking about it, and they’re right. Now I’m even changing the colors of the walls inside.” –Jerry Kleiner, on his still unnamed American grill in Hyde Park (at 5201 South Harper Court) opening at the end of September
“I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.” –Prince Philip (b. 1921), duke of Edinburgh
What About Kebab?
The smart folks on lthforum.com have been making noise about the three-week-old Shish Kebab Shack (8542 S. Cicero Ave., Burbank; 708-423-0057). The restaurant’s general manager/cook, Ayman Khalil, a veteran of Salam (4636 N. Kedzie Ave.), described the menu as “every kind of Mediterranean food. All kinds of kebabs. Chicken shawarma. Falafel. So many kinds of salads.” And the prices are predictably low, topping out at $11.25 for full dinner with salad and soup. “Too low,” says Khalil. “Everything is fresh.”
Twisted Spoke, which closed its Wrigleyville outpost (3365 N. Clark St.) on July 28th, will redo the original location (501 N. Ogden Ave.; 312-666-1500) as well. “As best we can describe it, we are going to flip the space,” says Cliff Einhorn, a partner. “Where the bar is now we are going to put the front room, and vice versa. We need to rebuild the bar itself because of the huge whiskey and bourbon collection. Besides, the place is getting sort of tired-looking.” The menu will be revamped, says Einhorn, but the makeover shouldn’t affect business: “I don’t think we can renovate our customers.”
This Is an Improvement?
One faithful FOD had this to say about Marge’s Still (1758 N. Sedgwick St.; 312-664-9775), the new-look version of a classic Old Town pub: “The cuisine is upscale bar food and they have a long list of burgers and salads, plus pretty decent rotisserie chicken and crab cakes. Draft beer is very expensive—$6 each. Getting a table is sort of a nightmare . . . they didn’t have a host stand and apparently you are supposed to check in with the bartender but lots of people were arguing over open tables.”
The Barcello Ultimatum
Barcello’s Restaurant and Pizzeria (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.) has closed. Owners David Richards (Sweets & Savories) and Lissy Peace took over the space about a year ago with grand plans, but now they’re back to the dreaded R-word: reconcepting. “The name Barcello’s didn’t have the power that we expected it to have,” says Peace. “We talked further and came to the decision that David has so much more strength in the marketplace, so he’s reconcepting and reopening, hopefully in October.” That’s funny. The place seemed to have been doing just fine for years before Richards and Peace changed it last year.
Things to Do
1. Eat at Feed (2803 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-489-4600) on August 25th, and 20 percent of your meal tab will go to, um, feed the animals at Red Door Animal Shelter (www.reddoorshelter.org).
2. Spend some time at the third bi-annual HAMSA-Fest at the south end of Lincoln Park on August 25th and 26th for a Middle Eastern festival that includes music, dance, art, food from Maza and Kabul House, and beverages from Argo Tea (noon to 9 p.m.).
3. Flip to page 108 of Gourmet’s September issue, where David Tamarkin of Time Out Chicago has a good, meaty story on Chicago’s bounty of authentic Mexican restaurants.
4. Be glad you’re currently in the safety of your home and/or office.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
A 100-seat outpost of Pompeii Bakery opens in Streeterville (212 E. Ohio St.; 312-482-9900) on August 23rd. . . . Texas De Brazil, a national chain of Brazilian churrascurías with an outpost in Schaumburg, plans to open a River North location in 2008. Jeez. Enough with these places. . . . In a recent e-mail exchange with Henry Adaniya—the former owner of Trio and the guy who launched Tramonto, Gand, McClain, and Achatz—he let slip that for his new venture in Honolulu, Hank’s Haute Dogs, he is currently “working on” a Spam dog. Way to follow your dream, Henry. . . . Happy tenth anniversary to Crofton on Wells (535 N. Wells St.; 312-755-1790), which celebrates the occasion on August 22nd. . . . Brix Wood Fired Pizza (104 W. St. Charles Rd., Lombard; 630-691-1900), a fast-casual spot that opened in March 2006, bakes its Neapolitan-style pizzas in roughly 90 seconds. . . . Sugar & Brown’s (158 W. Ontario St.), a gourmet grab-and-go store/café in River North that opened four months ago, has already closed. The owner told us in April that he hoped to open “three or four more stores here by the end of ’08.” Oops.