The space that once housed beloved cocktails-and-Cajun joint Analogue has begun its new life. The address now belongs to Daisies (2523 N. Milwaukee), a veggie- and pasta-centric concept owned and helmed by Joe Frillman (the Bristol, Perennial Virant, Balena). The restaurant opened yesterday with an overhauled interior and about 50 seats—plus 20 to 30 more on the patio, which is set to roll out later this summer.
Frillman has spent most of his career doing things “old school,” working with a small, loyal staff that gets treated like family. It’s an approach he picked up from Chris Pandel (Balena), his mentor of more than a decade, and it seems that Daisies will bear the torch with a few key tweaks: “I’ve learned there are ways to have a business without having to work 24 hours a day,” says Frillman. “So we’ll be closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Balance is very important to me.”
It certainly helps that Frillman will keep some of the work in the family: His brother Tim runs Frillman Farms in Prairie View, about an hour northwest of Chicago, on family land that Tim bought at Joe’s behest. “I sort of conned him into become a farmer,” jokes the elder Frillman. “I wanted a direct line to some good produce. I said, ‘Why don’t you take the farm back and do this?’ and he did!” The restaurant’s name also nods to Frillman family history: Daisy was a nickname for Joe and Tim’s grandmother, Helen.
As for the menu, Frillman has done his best to keep things focused and affordable. That means six pastas, two protein-centric entrées (sturgeon and chicken), and a selection of shareable starters and snacks. In the future, Frillman says, he’d like to include some charcuterie with plant-based variations, like vegetable terrine.
Pasta, however, is the obvious star of the show; Frillman has been smitten since his time at Balena, where a fancy extruder let him experiment with the shape and form of his noodles. Among the dishes he’s playing with for Daisies, the square spaghetti with cauliflower Bolognese and anchovies is his favorite. “We could call it chitarra pasta, which is square,” he says, “but we want to cut the pretentiousness out of this, for people who aren’t necessarily foodies. We want people to eat real food again.” A campaign slogan if ever we’ve heard one.