An Instant Classic
Sunda (110 W. Illinois St.; 312-644-0500) is exhausting. Where to look first? The gleaming bar, three deep with gorgeous people sipping stunning martinis like a wasabi H2O with a crushed wasabi pea rim? The long sushi bar under bamboo hangings meant to suggest floating fish? The eye candy packed at the communal table? No matter where you look, it’s good. This contemporary Asian place has been open about a minute and a half, and service is already a well-oiled machine—although the lengthy explanation of how the chef caramelized, glazed, and deglazed the crispy rice gave Pollack’s eyes a glaze, too. She loved the burnt watermelon salad topped with bacon-like unagi, the devil’s basket touted as the spiciest soft shells ever, and the harmonious spinach and mushroom salad with crispy onions—but it was the glazed eggplant with miso-bronzed black cod that rocked her world. Desserts need work, but who cares? The food is great and the place is glitzy, just like the good old days. You know, like six months ago.
Strange Days, Indeed
In light of the most recent news about a big-name chef seeking out downscale opportunities, let’s check our scorecard. Yep, we’ve now got Kornick planning to do burgers, Bowles sandwiches, Bayless tortas and churros, and Achatz whatever. Any bets on who’s next and what they’ll be doing? Will Jean Joho open a croque monsieur stand? Gale Gand a Jell-O shop? Will Michael Carlson sell Italian beef out of his kitchen?
“He gave her a look that you could have poured on a waffle.” –Ring Lardner, Jr. (1915-2000), American writer
5 Questions for Greg Morton
Morton is the owner of Jive Turkey (1746 W. 127th St., Calumet Park; 708-396-0131), a new turkey-only barbecue place in the south suburbs.
D: Why turkey?
GM: There’s a need in the community for healthier fast food as opposed to fried chicken joints and typical hamburger spots. In the African American community, we are plagued with high blood pressure. A lot of people are kicking the beef and pork nowadays. I don’t eat beef or pork, but I miss barbecue.
D: What kind of barbecue are you doing?
GM: We have a new cut where they remove the shoulder blade of the bird with the meat and the bones intact, which we coined as turkey ribs. We also have hot links and turkey tips, like small rib tips but they are turkey. We make our own barbecue sauce every day.
D: Is Jive Turkey barbecue only?
GM: No, we have made-to-order turkey burgers [$5] and turkey tacos and turkey nachos. Also have honey-glazed smoked wings and legs. And we have Cajun deep-fried turkey wings, and turkey spaghetti. We offer a sweet potato pie that we get from Jimmy Jamms in Beverly on 95th Street. Their pies are incredible.
D: Is this carryout or a sit-down restaurant?
GM: Mainly carryout. We have a little stoop with a couple of chairs. I’m getting ready to open another one in Hyde Park that’ll be more of a sit-down atmosphere with plasma TVs. I’m going to dump some money into that one.
D: How’s business in Calumet Park?
GM: The lines are out the door. I didn’t know how I would do. Everybody thinks their idea is the best one in the world. I knew I couldn’t open just any gyro place or something. Had to be something totally different.
By day, the space at 3733 Grand Boulevard in Brookfield (708-387-7300) goes by Delectably E Z, an organic bakery; by night it morphs into Boulevard, a 60-seat homey American restaurant. We’ll start with the bakery. “People call us three days ahead and tell us what they’d like and we have it ready for them,” says Elaine Zelinski, who runs both operations with her chef/husband, Bob. “Anything from flourless chocolate cake to fruit tarts, cheesecake to spun sugar desserts. We do a lot of bridal showers.” The warm-toned restaurant features all local foods, and all sauces and dressings are made from scratch. Think chicken pot pie baked in a puff pastry, breaded pork tenderloin with potato dumplings, and a revolving trio of crèmes brûlées. FYI: If you’re from Brookfield and Zelinski’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she helped launch the Brookfield Farmers’ Market last summer.
After 16 years at 901 West Armitage Avenue, Shine has moved four blocks to 756 West Webster Avenue (the old O’Famé space; 773-296-0101), where it will reopen in the 80-seat spot on March 20th. “The lease is up and the building is old,” says Sandy Yu, an owner. (She also co-owns Rise and Farmerie 58.) “We feel better about the location. We have spent three months remodeling and now we are ready.” The Chinese/Japanese menu will remain “85 percent” the same, and if you dine early you get an added benefit. “The bar will not be ready for the 20th,” says Yu. “So we’ll be BYO for a couple of weeks.”
Cheap Things to Do
- Revisit Erwin (2925 N. Halsted St.; 773-528-7200), which is now serving its beloved wood-grilled burgers for lunch on Saturdays, as well as a three-course, $18 prix fixe dinner every night.
- Check out the barbecue schedule at Sweet Baby Ray’s (249 E. Irving Park Rd., Wood Dale; 630-238-8261), which specializes in a different regional style every night of the week. (Or just go on Wednesday night for all-you-can-eat baby back ribs; $17.)
- Speaking of barbecue, four people can have a Korean barbecue feast for $15 apiece Monday through Thursday at Kohan Japanese Restaurant (730 W. Maxwell St.; 312-421-6254).
- Feel no shame about exploring the new “Cheap-Ass lunch carryout menu” at Hub 51 (51 W. Hubbard St.; 312-828-0051), which includes plenty of good options (miso-glazed salmon, a whole bunch of signature maki rolls) for $5 to $9.
- Click here to see Grant Achatz’s entire segment on Oprah.
Dot Dot Dot . . .
LB Bistro & Patisserie (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 E. North Water St.; 312-329-5900), a French-American breakfast/lunch/dessert restaurant from Laurent Branlard—a two-time world pastry champion—has opened. . . . Starfish, the sushi place at 804 West Randolph Street, appears to have closed. . . . Mark Caro, Tribune reporter and author of The Foie Gras Wars (Simon & Schuster) will be at the Lake View location of Borders (2817 N. Clark St.) on March 12th at 7 p.m. to give a talk and sign his book. . . . Not sure what’s going on here , but it’s fun to watch. . . . Pollack will be at Spacca Napoli (1769 W. Sunnyside St.; 773-878-2420)—in disguise, of course—talking about pizza at a “Festival di Napoli” dinner and reception dedicated to all things Neapolitan. . . . See how one restaurant “got even” with Yelp reviewers. Pretty funny.