Kith and Kims
Citing Mexican, Korean, and French influences, Edward Kim falls back on the term “American food” to describe the fare at Ruxbin (851 N. Ashland Ave.; 312-624-8509), a 38-seater scheduled to open mid- to late June in Noble Square. “I wouldn’t call it fusion,” says Kim, who did his culinary school externship at Per Se in New York. “That has a connotation of trying to force food together. I like to do dishes that make sense.” To illustrate, Kim suggests his K-Town empanadas—kimchi and Oaxaca cheese in a masa shell, deep-fried and served with chimichurri crème fraîche. Kim and his business partners, Vicki Kim (his sister) and Jenny Kim (unrelated), have been blogging the process of opening the restaurant, which gives the whole project a real mom-and-pop feel. And, in fact, it’s Jenny’s mom who is making the kimchi.
“When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. . . . At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.” –Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish writer
After graduating from Highland Park High School and going their separate ways, Jordan Rappaport and Peter Rauser have returned to their roots to create the forthcoming Baker Boys (733 St. Johns Ave., Highland Park; 847-433-0430), a bakery in the former Sloppy Jo’s space in the Ravinia business district. Opening any day now, the bakery will offer Julius Meinl coffee and house-made frozen custards, cupcakes, cheesecake, and other sweets. “[Rauser and I have] known each other since we were seven,” says Rappaport, whose resumé includes the Peninsula Hotel, X/O, and North Pond. “We first met each other at Sunset Day Camp.” He says they’ve been dreaming about owning a business for years. Huh—the only business we can remember planning with childhood friends is a spaceship factory.
Portage Park doesn’t pop up that often in restaurant-opening news. But it’s both the location and the namesake of The Portage (3938 N. Central Ave.; 773-853-0779), a gastropub launching in the next month or two on the Northwest Side. The owner, Quay Tao, who was a cofounder of Tizi Melloul, lives nearby and saw an opportunity for a neighborhood spot with American comfort food. “There will be macaroni and cheese but with three cheeses,” he says. “There will be a pork chop, too. And adobo salmon and a great homemade American pie for dessert.” The executive chef is Jeff Brantley, another Tizi alum. If the place succeeds, maybe they can franchise it. The Irving, The Rogers, The Hyde—there are a lot of possibilities.
Elsewhere in Northwest Side news, the owners of Miss Elley’s Deli in Skokie opened Got Spaghetti? (6154 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-594-7724) two months ago in Norwood Park. Madonna Wallace, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Rob, says the house specialty is the $9.99 spaghetti dinner, for which you choose one of six pastas with one of seven sauces, served alongside a Mediterranean salad and bread. The same permutational formula applies to the chicken and veal, which can be ordered marsala, piccata, limone, or Vesuvio. We think there’s a sixth-grade math problem in there somewhere, and we think the answer is 336.
On the Blog
• A new Belgian bakery called Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter opened on the Near North Side.
• Jessica Oloroso, the owner of Black Dog Gelato, answered our questions about her business.
• The last night at Miramar for Roland Liccioni was Friday.
Things to Do
1. Ramp up at the brand-new Morton Grove Farmers’ Market, on Waukegan Road north of Dempster Street, beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Live music, face painting, balloon animals, story time, and henna painting are all planned, and we’re pretty sure some people will also be selling produce.
2. Bring the tykes to Jolane’s Café (1100 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview; 847-375-6986) on Sunday anytime after 4 p.m. and get up to two items off the kids’ menu free with the purchase of an entrée off the adults’ menu.
3. Cool off with a bowl of snow ice at Cloud 9 (604 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-857-1255) and let us know if this might be the next big iced-treat fad to hit Chicago. The assessment of one Friend of Dish: "Shaved to order off a solid cylindrical block of ice, snow ice is creamy, but not as creamy as ice cream, with toppings similar to the variety found at crowded fro-yo spots throughout the city. It gets points in my book for being like nothing else out there."
Dot Dot Dot . . .
The outdoor seating at Longman & Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-276-7110) opened this past Thursday. . . . Act One Café (1330 W. Morse Ave.; 773-381-4550), next to Mayne Stage in Rogers Park, is open. . . . The Sun-Times ran a charming story about Cafeteria y Restaurante de Pancho (2200 N. California Ave.; 773-772-7811), the favorite restaurant of the White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. . . . Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Marché (833 W. Randolph St.; 312-226-8399) will close June 13th. . . . Blokes and Birds (3341 N. Clark St.; 773-472-5252), a Lake View gastropub, is scheduled to open in late June. The owner, Daily Webb, put in time at Havana and the nightclubs Circus, Transit, and Y Bar. Menu items include English tea–poached tilapia and a beef Wellington burger.