Poli Position

“It’s about time we start spreading our horizons beyond Latin and Spanish cuisine. It’s the right step for the future, for us,” says the chef Ryan Poli about Little Market Brasserie (Talbott Hotel, 210 E. Delaware Pl., 312-640-8135), his next collaboration with the Mercadito Hospitality Group, after the screamingly successful Tavernita and Barcito. The brasserie, scheduled for early winter, replaces the placeholder restaurant PT at the Talbott, which replaced Bice. Despite the French connotation of “brasserie” and the Parisian decor, the restaurant will serve American small plates whose concepts were sparked by visits Poli and the Mercadito partner Alfredo Sandoval made to 12 cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Montreal. Although still in development, possible dishes include an Alaskan king crab deviled egg with avocado; a roasted monkfish bordelaise with lentils, squash purée, and bacon; and house-made fusilli puttanesca with octopus. The beverage program, created by Mercadito partners Tippling Brothers, spotlights homemade sodas, some alcoholic, in flavors such as hibiscus–vanilla bean, smoked salted cream soda, and blood orange–cinnamon. One of the Tippling Brothers, Paul Tanguay, says, “Tad [Carducci] and I incorporate some [menu] elements into the beverage program. We call it raiding the chef’s pantry.” And American nostalgia will motivate desserts like soft serve. “My earliest childhood memory is probably going to DQ with my dad in the summertime,” Poli says. He plans to split his time between Tavernita and Little Market Brasserie, with a chef de cuisine at each taking the wheel when he’s out—Greg Bastien at Tavernita and Chris Davies (Blue 13, Branch 27, Henri) at LMB. “It’s lucky that we have the infrastructure to [expand],” Poli says. “We have cooks who want to be sous chefs and sous chefs who want to be chefs de cuisine.” As for the next logical link in that chain . . . watch out, Ryan.



“The belly rules the mind.” —Spanish proverb


You Will Get No Information from This Headline

The name Home Style Taste (3205 S. Halsted St., 312-949-9328) doesn’t suggest a Chinese restaurant. The owner of the two-week-old Bridgeport storefront, Nancy Wu, says it’s an homage to her family’s hometown, Shenyang, which translates to “homestyle.” She highlights menu items such as colorful wide cold noodles, pig intestines, and jellyfish-cucumber salad, made by her uncle, who is the chef. “[Dishes aren’t made] to American taste. More traditional Chinese taste,” she says. We suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the name of a Chinese restaurant superficially appeared uninformative. We did spend college eating Happy Family, Creaky Chicken, and Strange Flavored Beef.


Secret Asian Man

Speaking of subsurface Asianness, the 50-seat gastropub The Drunken Pig (5854 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-334-3225) opened in West Rogers Park at the beginning of October. “I’ve always wanted to open something like this—something really small with high-end craft beer and liquor and freestyle with the food,” says Johnny Park (Vermilion, Japonais, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!), the chef/partner. Korean touches dot the gastropub menu, as in braised and fried pork belly with kimchi purée or the quickly-becoming-classic kalbi taco. Dishes run $5 to $9, all in small-plate portions. All of a sudden everything seems Asian. Rereading this item conjured up a vision of a first-generation Korean American named Rogers Park.


Korea Opportunities

And speaking of Korea, Dak Korean Chicken Wings (1104 W. Granville Ave., 773-754-0255), a mostly-takeout Korean street-food specialist, plans a November opening near the Granville Red Line stop. Kimchi fried rice, rice bowls, and homemade dumplings exemplify the menu, along with the double-fried, papery-skinned wings that give the restaurant its name, which bears two mentions of chicken (dak means chicken in Korean). “We are bringing a new concept to Edgewater,” says Jenny Ju, a partner whose restaurant-savvy family will get the kitchen up and running. “There is Thai and sushi, but nothing like this,” adds Ju’s husband, Daniel, also a partner. Guess that makes Dak the Seoul purveyor.


Bustin’ Out Oliver

After spending years in hotel kitchens, Oliver Valenzuela opened his namesake BYO Oliver’s Café (451 W. 31st St., 312-791-1230) in Bridgeport on October 1. “My dream is to open a restaurant, and I get into my 50s, and I decided I better do it,” he says. A few dishes off the menu of the neighborhood-friendly, 38-seat bistro:

• Pan-seared jumbo sea scallops with salsify
• Quail with Swiss chard, chestnuts, and port wine glaze
• Cinnamon-braised beef tenderloin with sweet plantains
• Braised pork tenderloin with Spanish chorizo, Swiss chard, chayote, and apple cider sauce
• Blackened salmon with pineapple relish and basil-butter sauce
• A dessert egg roll filled with pineapple and apple, brandied with raisins and brown sugar 

Valenzuela plans to start serving lunch next week, before he gets too much older.


On Twitter

Follow Pollack on Twitter.


Things to Do

  1. Meet and greet the two-time James Beard award winners Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, whose books The Flavor Bible and Culinary Artistry have garnered praise from Grant Achatz, Phillip Foss, and Stephanie Izard. Tonight from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the duo will host a complimentary book signing and reception at The Spice House (1512 N. Wells St., 312-274-0378), featuring hors d’oeuvres inspired by The Flavor Bible.
  2. Make it a point to visit Burger Joint (675 N. Franklin St., 312-440-8600) next week. From October 22 to 29, the fast-casual River North spot celebrates its first year with $1 fries, gyros, and beef sliders topped with American cheese.
  3. Put yourself to work this Saturday at City Winerys (1200 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9463) first annual Fall Crush, an hourlong event that allows budding winemakers to roll up their sleeves and stem, sort, and process grapes bound for the winery’s fermentation tanks. No barefoot stomping, sadly. Following 20 minutes of crushing, visitors can tour the facility, sample wine, and refuel with a buffet-style lunch. Crushes begin every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $30. Call 312-733-9463 for reservations.  



  • Also much delayed, The Embers on Broadway (2835 N. Broadway, 773-327-9593), an American-food restaurant named for its giant raised fireplace, has fired up the grills.  
  • Bobby’s Deerfield (695 Deerfield Rd., Deerfield, 847-607-9104), a casual new American bistro with a menu emphasizing organic produce and sustainable seafood, opened yesterday.
  • The Glunz Tavern (1202 N. Wells St., 312-642-3001), a reboot of the Old Town spot that shuttered when Prohibition began, looks to soft-open next week with a French-German-American menu co-created by Allen Sternweiler (Butcher & the Burger).


Dot Dot Dot . . .

We’ve all speculated for months, and we finally know (via the New York Times) the location for Mario Batali’s forthcoming Chicago version of Eataly: The high-end Italian food court and supermarket will open at Michigan Avenue and Ohio Street (in the former ESPN Zone space) next September. . . . Via Facebook, Homaro Cantu announced an upcoming television series based on his restaurant iNG. In other Cantu news, Eater received a tip that the chef is eying the former home of Charlie Trotter’s for a new project. . . . Eater also reports that Matthias Merges (Yusho) plans to launch two new Hyde Park restaurants in 2013. . . . Karyn’s Fresh Corner (1901 N. Halsted St., 312-255-1590) is temporarily closed after a fire damaged the building last week. Reopening details will be posted on Facebook. . . . Nana has promoted its Mexican-born chef Ricardo Pineda from sous chef to executive chef.