The Canary Sings

Remember Rick Spiros, the chef involved in the short-lived Mantou Noodle Bar last winter? He’s back with the ambitious Red Canary (695 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 312-846-1475), a chef-driven “modern Victorian” lounge opening in the old Avenue M space as soon as the city gives a thumbs up. “It is a lounge that serves food,” says Spiros. “But it’s not serving food by some guy who is just kind of back there making hamburgers.” Spiros’s menu of “mid plates” (“larger than small bites, but still meant to be shared”) will include dishes such as pulled short rib on garlic brioche with arugula pesto and a poached organic egg—just the kind of showstoppers that his bosses, Jamie Uhlir and Shane Hudson (The Loft in Denver), wanted when they signed him on in April. The redone space includes a grand crystal chandelier and ornate gold details, and still makes use of the coveted ivy-laden patio.


“She was so wild that when she made French toast, she got her tongue caught in the toaster.” –Rodney Dangerfield (1921-2004), American comedian

5 Questions for Daniel Kelly

Kelly (D. Kelly, Avenue M, Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood) will be the chef of Jerry Kleiner’s huge, upcoming “Midwestern food” spot in Old Town (1419 N. Wells St.).

D: First off, what’s the place called?
DK: I don’t know the name. I’d like a logo so I can get a business card.

D: When is this happening? We heard late July.
DK: Could be. We still have “task force” to go through. My personal feeling on it is that it will take a little time. I’m planning on following a two-weeks-to-opening schedule.

D: What will your menu be like?
DK: We’re starting off with a very tight menu: 48 items. I have five bar snacks, which are $3 apiece. House-made potato chips with a caramelized onion dip. Citrus-marinated olive medley. Parmesan cheese flatbread with goat cheese.  Three deviled eggs with a little truffle oil mixed in. Bacon popcorn.

D: What about bigger selections?
DK: Two steaks. Scottish farm-raised salmon. A boneless roasted chicken. Chicken stuffed with lobster. A little veal ragù with morel mushrooms. We are making desserts in-house.

D: Who is “we”?
DK: Brenda Manfredini is doing a sundae, a Boston cream pie, a little strawberry shortcake. Ice-cream sandwiches. All will be five or six bucks. We’re really not going with a high-dollar thing here, you know.  

State Street, That Late Street?

Andrew Espinosa hopes to open State Street Pizza Company (400 N. State St.) in the old City Café space by the end of August. Espinosa, who owned a tortilla factory in Warsaw, of all things, says to expect pizza by the slice, a walkup window, and seating for maybe a dozen. He hopes to corner the to-go lunchtime business and draw late-night crawlers from the nearby Hubbard Street bars. “We will also be doing a little deluxe flatbread, but right now we’re concentrating on thin pizza, more of a New York style,” says Espinosa. “But I’m not the pizza maker. I’m the pizza eater.”

Think Again

Omar Rodriguez and his wife, Ryvkah Goodman-Rodriguez (Think Cafe), plan to open (K)new (2556 W. Fullerton Ave.), a 130-seat BYO, in the old Caliente space six blocks away. “We are going to be a little bit more upscale,” says Goodman. “We will use all organic and free-range and support local farmers.” Think’s fans—and there are many—will be thrilled to hear that the new location will also have a BYO chef’s table that will seat as many as ten people. As for cuisine, Goodman says to expect more of Rodriguez’s eclectic globehopping: “We could have amazing seviche one night, and the next he might be poaching a pear and using cheese in the middle and homemade sausage with spice and a red wine reduction. It’ll be like Think—just a little bit more fine tuned.”

Pollack’s Quick Hit

Fritz Pastry (1408 W. Diversey Pkwy.; 773-857-2989), with its periwinkle blue walls, giant sepia-toned photos, glossy brown wood café tables, and a cushy two-seater leather couch, is too cute for words. The croissant wasn’t as flaky and buttery as I had hoped for, so the dabs of butter, caramel, red raspberry jam, and blackberry jam on the plate came in handy. The bostock (almond brioche) was pleasantly moist and dense inside and cleverly fluted and crusty on the outside. Loved the almond cream topping best of all. Between the heady café au lait and the urbanistas who already discovered the place, Fritz feels like a cozy touch of Euro.

For a Laugh, Huh?

“A couple of us stopped into Tilted Kilt (17 N. Wabash St.; 312-269-5580), the faux-Irish Hooters, for a laugh this week and found that they spelled ‘Guinness’ wrong on their menu (forgot the second n),” an FOD told us. “Not that big of a deal except for the fact that there are about 47 Guinness signs and posters on the walls of that tacky place.” Ah, that’s what you get for choosing your restaurant ironically.

One Question for Jerry Suqi on the opening of Jamburger (937 N. Damen Ave.; 773-489-0302), his 36-seat artisanal breakfast/brunch spot set to open in Ukrainian Village this weekend

D: Is your mom staying at Chickpea [2018 W. Chicago Ave.; 773-384-9930]?
JS: My mom is Chickpea.

Things to Do

  1. Watch a free screening of Food, Inc., a new documentary about industrial food production, at Landmark Renaissance Place Cinema (1850 Second St.; Highland Park) at 7:30 p.m. on July 15th, or at the same time the next night at Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 N. Clark St.).
  2. Participate in Super Happy Sushi Fun Time (3 to 6 p.m. daily) at Hub 51 (51 W. Hubbard St.; 312-828-0051), when all sushi is half off.
  3. Celebrate National Hot Dog Month throughout July by getting three mini dogs (one Chicago style, one New York style, one chili) and chips for $8.50 at Stretch Run (544 N. La Salle St.; 312-644-4477).
  4. Allow Ruby’s wife to pass judgment on whether you are a “real” Chicagoan.

Dot Dot Dot . . .

Sheffield’s (3258 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-281-4989) opened a second outpost: a 6,500-square-footer in the western suburbs (3131 Thatcher Ave., River Grove; 708-452-3131) featuring beer, barbecue, thin-crust pizza, and an outdoor patio. . . . David Sang Kim and Min Kim (both of Sushi Ai, Wildfish, and Swordfish) are now steering the ship at Makisu (7150 N. Carpenter Rd., Skokie; 847-677-9030), a 90-seat modern sushi spot in a north suburban strip mall. . . . Another Five Guys Burgers and Fries (6474 N. Sheridan Dr.; 773-262-9810) has opened, this one within drooling distance of the Loyola campus. . . . E.Leaven Food Company (54 E. Ontario St.; 312-202-0899), an offshoot of a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, artisan bakery and brunch spot, has opened in River North. . . . Michael Tsonton (CopperBlue) has turned up as the chef de cuisine at The Hotel Sax (333 N. Dearborn St.). Last we heard, the Sax had no restaurants—unless you count Bin 36—so we’re guessing room service is going to be kickass.