Empirical Analysis

When Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser opened the French restaurant LM in Lincoln Square in 2009, that storefront was the extent of their business. After expanding their holdings with Troquet and Brasserie by LM earlier this year, the wheeler-dealers now are trying their hands at a merger, joining forces with Luke Johnson, the co-owner of the River North spot Elate, to relocate LM (Hotel Felix, 111 W. Huron St., 312-202-9900) to the Elate space by mid-August. Most Elate staffers are staying. “We’re bringing the LM team with us as well,” Nicole Outrequin Quaisser says. “Bradford Phillips will head up the kitchen again.” As for the Lincoln Square space, which will cease to be LM after service July 19, it might become another colony in the Outrequin Quaisser empire. “There’s still a possibility to reconcept it,” Nicole says. “We have a lease there. We are thinking of concepts to potentially brand it.” Because the new venture is located in a hotel, LM 2.0 will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, with breakfast and lunch midway between what’s served at Troquet and Brasserie by LM (which is in the Essex Inn). The wordplayers in us wish they’d called the merger L8.


New Review: LM

Coincidentally, the August issue of Chicago magazine, on newsstands tomorrow, contains a new review of LM. New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in the print magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. LM previously was not rated. The review appears in the August issue, on newsstands tomorrow.
LM (4539 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-942-7585). French.
   (very good)
$$$ ($40–$49 per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
What, no loud music? No schmoozy servers? No oversize portions from an oversize menu? You call this a restaurant? Yes. Bradford Phillips’s casually sophisticated cuisine will win over those in search of authentic, fanfareless, Euro-style dining. Preparations are simple yet highly evolved—pea soup laced with tarragon, silky trout under smoked-bacon froth, Meyer lemon panna cotta, a smart cheese platter. Prix fixe dinners ($39) are a pleasure and a good deal, but à la carte entrées (appetizers) and plats (entrées) satisfy equally well. Mostly French wines; nice by-the-glass selection.
For the dishes we liked best, click here.


Five Questions for Lee Wolen

Wolen, 30, has returned to Chicago, where he worked at Butter and Moto, to serve as chef de cuisine at The Peninsula hotel, overseeing The Lobby (The Peninsula Chicago, 108 E. Superior St., 312-573-6695). He most recently worked as sous chef at the upscale New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park. His menu is scheduled to launch at The Lobby in mid-September.
Dish: How did you wind up at the Peninsula?
Lee Wolen: The original idea was for me to take over Avenues [now closed] after Curtis [Duffy], but that changed, and I remained in New York. They came back about six months later, [saying they] would like to take The Lobby to a different level.
D: What do you plan for the menu?
LW: A normal à la carte menu, as opposed to small plates. There will be between 8 and 10 entrées. Three fish, five meats, pasta, but also very elevated. We are using the best lamb and the best farm chicken. I use perfect techniques and perfect seasoning and everything the American palate likes. [For example,] we like smoked salmon and cucumbers, but I like to do it with nothing manipulated. Salmon tastes like salmon and cucumbers taste like cucumbers.
D: What is that dish like?
LW: The sockeye salmon is from Copper River. Confited in olive oil with variations of cucumbers and horseradish. It’s slow-cooked in the olive oil, so it’s super-tender.
D: How casual will The Lobby be? Will you have a hamburger on the menu, for example?
LW: No hamburger on the menu. [But] it’s the service industry, and anything you want, you can have. At Eleven Madison Park, french fries weren’t on the menu, but if a customer wanted them, we made them.
D: So it’s not as expensive as Avenues was, and it’s not as casual as The Lobby currently is. Is that right?
LW: Yes. Totally people friendly. A normal night-out dinner at a nice restaurant.


Renaissance Renaissance

Continuing Hotel Revamp Week at Dish, in the north suburbs, the American bistro Rooks Corner in the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel will metamorphose into the Italian restaurant Pancetta (Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel, 933 Skokie Valley Blvd., Northbrook, 847-897-5501) on or about August 1. “We’re trying to make it a standalone in the hotel,” says Chris Dugenske, the chef, meaning that the restaurant will function more like nearby independents, such as Francesco’s Hole in the Wall and Prairie Grass Cafe, than a hotel restaurant. Although breakfast will target hotel guests, Dugenske has free rein (and no Renaissance branding on the menus) for lunch and dinner, with dishes like spinach salad with pancetta dressing mixed tableside, pasta with grilled salmon and leeks under a Gorgonzola cream sauce, and broiled chicken with broccoli. He’s also partnered with local purveyors Highland Baking Co. in Northbrook, Scala’s sausage, and Homer’s ice cream in Wilmette, where a pancetta ice cream is in the works. Somehow bacon ice cream has become so mainstream that it now has ethnic versions.



“Bread and butter, devoid of charm in the drawing room, is ambrosia eaten under a tree.” —Elizabeth von Arnim (1866–1941), British novelist


Simple Subject

When getting the meat-cart show at a steak house, we have often wondered who gets anything other than steak at such a place. At Grass Fed (1721 N. Damen Ave., 773-342-6000), we won’t have this perplexity, because there are no other entrées on the menu. A $25 prix fixe buys salad, fries, and a grass-fed, flat-grilled, 21-day wet-aged sirloin weighing about eight to ten ounces. “We serve two portions of the steak to ensure that when you are halfway through the steak, the second half will be fresh and hot,” says Scott Kay, a partner. Sides and starters rotate on and off the menu, managed by the chef Cody Butler (Wellfleet, Longman & Eagle). The exhaustive list of the other offerings right now:
• Steak tartare, made with the trimmings from cutting the steaks off the top butt
• Pickled roasted beets with oranges and mascarpone
• Asparagus with rhubarb and lemon-honey vinaigrette
Grass Fed soft-opened this past Thursday and has its grand opening July 21. Common as it is, having two openings is the most complex thing about this place.


Living the Dream

Trademark Tavern (777 E. Butterfield Rd., Lombard, 630-472-0777), a 300-seat upscale tavern in the western suburbs, opened, um, a little while ago. “We quietly opened about last Monday, maybe two Mondays ago,” says Matt Lewandowski, a partner. “I haven’t slept, so I don’t know.” Lewandowski, who also invested in the nightclubs RiNo, Stay, and Manor, hired Geoff Silverwood (Benchmark) as chef, to prepare a wide-ranging menu with starters, sushi, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, entrées, desserts, and sides. The drink menu offers 31 wines by the glass and 32 draft beers, including some available at taps in customers’ booths, à la Bull & Bear and Public House. Lewandowski recommends the Prince Edward Island mussels in tomato broth, the lamb lollipops with chimichurri, and the cookie skillet. “My kids like to have four skillets and skip the dinner,” he says. Sounds like those kids have been taking advantage of dad’s sleeplessness.


On Twitter

•  Sumi Robata Bar reveals its River North address.
•  Pollack eats and tweets up a storm during her Canada trip.

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On the Blog

• Team Dish gets the scoop on Homestead from its chef, John Wayne Formica.


Things to Do

1.  Raise a pint to Franklin Tap (325 S. Franklin St., 312-212-3262), which celebrates its fifth anniversary all day today. During the suds-fueled soiree, all 12 of the bar’s draft beers (including Revolution Anti-Hero and Great Lakes’ Holy Moses) and everything on its food menu—such as the grilled grouper sandwich (regularly $13) and the burger topped with Merkt’s cheddar and bacon ($11)—will cost a very palatable $5.

2. Check out the first installment of Jams (3057 W. Logan Blvd., 773-292-6011) market dinner, which kicks off tonight and will be offered Tuesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. The dinner features Logan Square Farmer’s Market produce in four-course ($35; drink pairings $18 additional) or five-course ($46; drink pairings $21) prix fixe menus. And don’t worry about scheduling an ATM trip, because Jam now accepts credit cards.

3. Slip a little education into happy hour at JW Marriott Chicago (151 W. Adams St., 312-660-8200), which hosts Danielle Cyrot, the winemaker at St. Clement Vineyards in Napa Valley, at its Women on Wine event, running 5 to 8 p.m. on July 17. For $15 per attendee, Cyrot guides a tasting, and wines are paired with the chef Pete Pettorossi’s dishes, such as a lobster spring roll with roasted corn, edamame, and truffle aïoli.



• Trenchermen (2039 W. North Ave., 773-661-1540), the longer-than-long-awaited project from Michael Sheerin (Blackbird) and Patrick Sheerin (The Signature Room at the 95th), is open.

• Homestead (1924 W. Chicago Ave., no phone), a seasonal eatery with dishes from the restaurant’s own rooftop farm, will make its debut tonight.

Gino’s East Sports Bar (521 S. Dearborn St., 312-939-1818), a sportier version of the deep-dish standby with 50-plus craft beers and, of course, flatscreens, opened today on Printer’s Row.  

Square One (1400 S. Michigan Ave., 312-786-1750), a wine bar with temperature- and air-controlled wine stations allowing self-service wine pours of any amount, opens Saturday.


Dot Dot Dot . . .

Rhapsody shuttered last night. It will reopen in September as Tesori—minus the chef Dean Zanella, who was let go. . . . Greg Elliott has parted ways with Lockwood, and the search for a new executive chef is on. Eater says Elliott has signed on at Wave. . . . Dana Cree (Alinea) is sweetening up the Blackbird menu as the restaurant’s new pastry chef. . . . The Chicago Diner will add a second location this fall in the site of the shared-kitchen space Logan Square Kitchen. . . . Eater reports that Nathan Huntington (L2O) has taken up executive chef duties at Argent. . . . The Marigold team, who closed the restaurant’s six-year-old Uptown location last weekend, announced that they plan to open the new version this fall at 5413 North Clark Street. . . . The oddly named Malibu Pizza and Ice Cream Bakery is scheduled to open its kosher vegetarian pizza parlor and salad bar late this month at 3357 Dempster Street in Skokie. The ice cream shop will be soon to follow. “No one had a kosher vegetarian place that had pizza and ice cream and would be open late,” says the owner, Deborah Yampol. . . . According to The Stew, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will dish up free Asian carp sliders to brave Taste of Chicago attendees.