'Cue Ball

Imagine what it would look like if the Wrigleyville standbys Chen’s and John Barleycorn had a barbecue restaurant baby. That’s probably a pretty accurate picture of the unnamed project planned for next summer at 3506 North Clark Street, a Chinese, Korean, and American barbecue joint with 6,000 square feet indoors and 5,000 outdoors under a retractable roof. Sam Sanchez—whose latest John Barleycorn (149 W. Kinzie St., 773-348-8899), incidentally, opens today—says the pit master and MasterChef contestant Tony Scruggs will run a Southern Pride smoker for the American ’cue. The chef/owner of Chen’s, Bing Zhou, created the Asian recipes, some of which will be prepared on a robata grill. “Most people think [a robata cooks] just Japanese barbecue,” Zhou says. “The Chinese use the same equipment.” The new barbecue restaurant will encompass what is now Chen’s and also serve the current Chen’s menu. Chen’s will remain open through the construction. All right, now what if the Billy Goat and the Purple Pig had a restaurant baby . . . ?


Rubber Soul

Michelin released its 2013 guide to Chicago yesterday, which brought these star changes:

  • Graham Elliot and L2O, each previously one-star awardees, were promoted to two stars.
  • Four of 2012’s one-star restaurants do not appear: Bonsoirée and Seasons, which closed, and Courtright’s and Vie (demoted).
  • Four restaurants are new to the one-star list: Acadia, Goosefoot, Mexique, and Sixteen. Sixteen earned one star in 2011, but did not make the guide in 2012 because of a pending chef change.

For the full Michelin list, click here.


New Review: Acadia

Acadia’s chef/owner, Ryan McCaskey, got the call from Michelin yesterday, receiving one star. “I told my staff, ‘Let’s have a glass of Champagne,’” McCaskey says, “‘but now it’s about getting two.’” Coincidentally, Chicago magazine’s December issue, on newsstands tomorrow, contains a new review of Acadia. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Acadia previously was not listed.

Acadia (1639 S. Wabash Ave., 312-360-9500). Contemporary.
   ½ (excellent to superlative)
$$$$ ($50-plus per person for a meal, without tax, tip, or alcohol)
Just when it seems that culinarily ambitious, unabashedly formal special occasion dining might be a dying art, out of sync with the Zeitgeist, along comes this elegant place, breathing new life into the genre. Ryan McCaskey, the Saigon-born chef, pulls out all the stops with lobster, truffles, foie gras, and other luxurious foodstuffs. But humbler tastes—mustard seeds here, pickled cherries there—also shine, with supertasty accessorizing morsels pushing the main events in interesting directions, all coherent. And such pretty plates! Food doesn’t get much lovelier than this. Six- and eight-course tasting menus ($95, $120). Serious wine program.

For the dishes we liked best, click here.


Hither and John

John Vermiglio, 28, has been selected to head the kitchen at Matthias Merges’s unnamed Hyde Park project at 1301 East 53rd Street, scheduled for next summer. Here are a few highlights from our wide-ranging conversation.

  • On working at Charlie Trotter’s takeout business, Trotter’s to Go: “On face value, it was just a fancy grocery store. That’s how I kept myself humble.”
  • On the chef Art Smith, his boss at Table Fifty-Two: “He looked at me one day and said, ‘I’m going to lose 100 pounds and get on the cover of People magazine.’ And he did. Anything he said he would do, he did.”
  • On the menu at the forthcoming restaurant: “It’s going to center around the food indigenous to southern France and northern Italy. We are talking lots of fresh pastas and pizzas. A wood-fired oven. Lots of whole roasted meats.”
  • On his personal style, which shows Trotter’s influence: “My style is clean. Eliminate creams and butters and showcase proteins or vegetables or whatever it is.”
  • On dessert: “I have seen the plans, and I know there is a soft-serve yogurt machine. Could be a problem for me in the long run. I’ll probably gain a couple of pounds.”



The cleverly named MorseL (1406 W. Morse Ave., 773-274-0700), a dinner and brunch spot from the owners of T’s, Sidecar, and the Glenwood, opened on Halloween a stone’s throw from the Morse Red Line stop. An “upscale-style restaurant,” according to the floor manager, Ron Sweet, the 181-seat MorseL serves entrées ranging from orecchiette ($12) to roast lamb chops ($25) and daily specials, including all-you-can-eat mussels and fries on Thursdays and fried chicken on Mondays. You know, combining the Morse code L from this item’s headline with recent coverage of the Logan Square wine bar Telegraph and Paul McGee’s upcoming bar Three Dots and a Dash, Dish seems to be in the midst of a telegraphy minitrend.



Turkey, n. A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude. Incidentally, it is pretty good eating.” —Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913), American journalist, author, and satirist, in The Devil’s Dictionary


Fête Accompli

After a partnership split, three of the four founders of the monthly food-and-fashion Dose Market have organized a nocturnal food-and-design pop-up, Fête Chicago. With a $5 entrance fee, the first Fête, from 6 to 10 p.m. on December 6 at Room 1520 (1520 W. Fulton St.), will feature food such as alfajores from La Sirena Clandestina and goods such as books from the Logan Square bookstore City Lit. Illinois Sparkling Co., of Utica, will provide glasses of its sparkling wine to fêtegoers. “We want to make it really feel like a celebration and a party,” says Heather Sperling, a Fête partner. What we’d really go for is if they could make it feel like summer again.


He Said It

“Classicly trained in French, back in the Nouvelle Cuisine days, lobster with strawberries, YUK!!! I was 27 and said, I want to cook with 3 ingredients, not 20, hence Italian.” —Scott Harris, head of the business including the Francesca’s restaurants and Davanti Enoteca, in an unedited text message, when asked why he has focused on Italian restaurants


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Things to Do

  1. Bring your own mug or bowl, donate $5 for the hungry, and sample soups from City Provisions, Lula Cafe, Mana Food Bar, and more at Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave., 312-746-5100) from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight. Proceeds benefit Breakthrough Urban Ministries.
  2. Snag a free sweet treat at Jam (3057 W. Logan Blvd., 773-292-6011) now through Friday. Diners receive a no-purchase-necessary serving of French toast in honor of the restaurant’s one-year anniversary. Limit one per table.
  3. Watch what you eat this weekend at the Food Film Festival, a competitive series at Kendall College (900 N. North Branch St.) that pairs foodie films, shorts, and documentaries with the dishes pictured onscreen. Tickets run from $45 for a single event to $250 for a full-weekend VIP pass.



  • Riccardo Enoteca (2116 N. Clark St., 773-549-5010), a wine bar with a wood-burning oven overseen by Riccardo Michi of Riccardo Trattoria, opens to the public tomorrow.
  • Keene Addington (the former Flat Top Grill CEO) and the chef Gray McNally (Spiaggia, Boka) will open Tortoise Club (350 N. State St., 312-755-1700), a classic supper club featuring mahogany from the old Pump Room, on November 19.
  • Breakfast and lunch come together at Bel 50 (738 N. Clark St., 312-202-0600), also opening November 19. The fast-casual spot will offer savory sandwich fillings folded into low-sugar Belgian waffles.
  • Elsewhere in waffledom, the Lake View location of Waffles (3617 N. Broadway, 773-281-8475) will open its doors to weary shoppers and tryptophan zombies on Black Friday, November 23.


Dot Dot Dot . . .

Owners Matthew Van Valkenburgh and Yamandú Pérez (also of Two) closed Zak’s Place in Hinsdale on Saturday. Its five-year lease ended in August. . . . Christian Fantoni (Filini) is the new executive chef at 437 Rush. To replace him, Filini has promoted its sous chef, William Johnson. . . . Steve McDonagh and Dan Smith (Hearty) release their mixology-for-the-layperson book The New Old Bar: Classic Cocktails and Salty Snacks from The Hearty Boys on November 15. . . . Greco’s Gluten Free has set up shop in Willow Springs, offering pre-made family-style Italian meals that are also available dairy-free. . . . We’ll be busy stuffing both our turkeys and our gullets next week. Look for the next serving of Dish on November 28. Happy Thanksgiving!