Branching Out

Jim Dragatsis (Marigold), Howard Natinsky (Fat Cat), and Cary Michael (formerly of Rockit) are collaborating on Branch 27 (1371 W. Chicago Ave.), a 120-seat American bistro in the old 27th Ward library. “We are focusing on foods people are very familiar with—flat-iron steaks, great mussels, great seafood—classics done very well,” says Dragatsis. “The plates are not going to be loaded with garnishes and sauces.” The partners gutted and redid the century-old building, adding a glass-roofed atrium and terrazzo flooring—and trucked in a white oak tree from Minnesota to use for the bar. “We had a local carpenter; he brought the actual tree down here,” says Dragatsis. “Our bar is made of that tree.” Expect a mid- to late-January opening. Oh, and FYI: Dragatsis and Sandeep Malhotra, his partner at Marigold (4832 N. Broadway; 773-293-4653), are working on acquiring a space in Bucktown or Wicker Park for a fast-casual Indian spot (think chicken tikka sandwich on naan with cucumber raita). 


“Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” –Erma Bombeck (1927-96), American humorist

Worth the Wait

Tiny Lounge (4352 N. Leavitt St.; 773-463-0396), the new location of the beloved martini bar that closed in 2006 due to of the CTA brown line renovation, will finally open later this month. Dish is looking forward to it, partially because of the expanded wine list and draft selections—but mostly because the eventual chef will be Montreal native Tara Pietroniro, a veteran of The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s legendary spot in Bray, England. “We are trying to do something a little different with our approach to the food, especially where bars are concerned,” says Mark Johnson, a partner. What he means is that Pietroniro’s menu will focus on organic/local products, such as surf-and-turf tacos of braised Tallgrass Farms beef and pickled corn salsa, and cornmeal fried catfish with jicama slaw. Johnson says food may not be served until January, to which we can only ask: Why not?

5 Questions for Josh Deth

Deth, an owner of Handlebar (2311 W. North Ave., 773-384-9546), plans to break ground next week on his ambitious project, a 160-seat Logan Square brewpub/restaurant called Revolution Brewing (2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.).

D: How do you envision the place?
JD: Full casual dining restaurant, with a walkaround-style bar like you see on Cheers. Or at Goose Island. I worked there for several years. Quality pub fare as well as hearth oven pizzas. We’re going to have some fun with the toppings. Try to use some local ingredients. Also going to make beer for other restaurants and bars around town.

D: When did you get the idea for Revolution?
JD: While working at Goose Island, about eight years ago. Been working on this location for two years now.

D: How did you get into the brew pub world?
JD: In college. University of Michigan, which is where I got into home brewing. Came to Chicago in 1995 and worked at the now defunct Golden Prairie Brewing, one of the early microbreweries.

D: Did beer derail your education?
JD: Finished school, got a degree in economics—and a masters in urban planning along the way. Many of the city’s early leaders were brewers, like William Ogden, our first mayor. We are going to pay tribute to Chicago as a brewing city. Pre-Prohibition, Chicago was a center for brewing in the U.S.

D: In a perfect world when would you open?
JD: Fall 2009. Realistically.

Self-Serve, Self-Control

We didn’t understand how YoGo Station (1000 Lake St., Oak Park; 708-383-9646), a new frozen yogurt shop in the western suburbs, could be self-serve, so we called Felipe Yung, the owner. “Customers grab a bowl and we have four machines with eight non-fat flavors,” says Yung, a 1998 graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School. “They get as much or as little yogurt as they want. The machine basically does all the work. You pull the handle and the frozen yogurt comes out. Then we have a toppings bar with fresh fruit, berries, kiwi, mango, cereal, chocolate chips. About 20 to 30 toppings. Once customers are finished, we put it on the scale and charge by the ounce.” (It’s currently 25¢ an ounce, but by January, it will be 39¢.) The self-serve concept is new to the Chicago area, but Yung is optimistic. “We’re pretty close to the high school,” he says. “And the kids love it. They add tons of toppings.”

Things to Do

1. Watch Top Chef while trying a Top Chef’s menu: Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., Between Boutique Café & Lounge (1324 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-292-0585) hosts a viewing party with a $50 prix fixe menu by Radhika Desai, a season-five star of Bravo’s show. Big screens, matching wines, general revelry.

2. Try the new Gingerbread CaramelCrisp popcorn at Garrett Popcorn Shops, available in stores during the month of December only.

3. Look into a New Mexico green chili–pepperoni pizza, which sounds weird but is a big hit with patrons at Moonshine (1824 W. Division St.; 773-862-8686). Better yet, try it on a Wednesday when it’s half price ($7.50).

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique, a wholesale cupcake company that focuses on high-quality ingredients, is opening a retail shop at 115 North Wabash Street (312-845-9669) later this month. . . . . Another December début: Theory (9 W. Hubbard St.; 312-644-0004), an upscale River North sports bar boasting “American comfort food with Mexican and Southern barbecue influences,” in the former Kevin space. . . . Michael McDonald, the new chef of One Sixtyblue, made the 2006 short list of men being considered to star in ABC’s reality show, The Bachelor. McDonald removed himself as a contender because he was unable to leave the kitchen for the rigorous filming schedule. . . . Check out page 58 of Gourmet’s December issue. It’s a nice review of Home Cooking With Charlie Trotter (Ten Speed Press). . . . Congrats to L2O (2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-868-0002), which continues to rack up accolades. Its latest is the coveted Gold Key Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design, which L2O’s Dirk Denison Architects took home last month. . . . Remember Michael Foley (Printer’s Row)? He recently opened Vegetable Alchemy (1041 W. Grand Ave.; 312-479-8612), a private culinary studio that focuses on “the new architecture of food.” Has something to do with food and fitness—we think.