The second annual Chicago Chef Week is on the horizon—make note to clear your schedule for March 22-28—bringing with it an endless array of affordable prix fixe menus at top tables all over town.
More than two-dozen restaurants will be dishing up special menus. Among them is The Publican, which will usher in a $30 three-course meal of Little Gem salad with crispy pig ears, followed by grilled country ribs. As for dessert, look for a tweaked version of its famed waffle.
Admittedly, though, you may be lured to the ’burbs for Paul Virant’s menu at Vie, which happens to be one of our Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. He’ll kick things off with a salad of La Quercia prosciutto, scarlet turnips, caramel apple jam, Werp Farms arugula and Spanish olive oil. Next up, it’s Milanese-style Gunthorp Farms chicken with organic polenta, fried Tuscan kale and garlic-herb vinaigrette and warm, gooey butter cake with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, brittled peanuts and chocolate sauce.
I loved my meal at Marea, Chef Michael White’s stellar vision of Italian seafood on Central Park South in the old San Domenico space now sleekly done with clubby touches and a crudo bar. No misses here — from the ricci starter of sea urchin spread with lardo to the pastas, lobster with burrata, Hawaiian swordfish with fruit and the sublime affogato dessert drink.
Can’t wait to go back to try Marea’s Le Collezione menu at the Crudo Bar, offering six crudi, five small portions of pasta, and dessert for $125. No wonder it was named to Gayot’s list of Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S.
On April 6, avec restaurant and wine bar will pay homage to the happenings by hosting a five-course beer dinner emphasizing veggies and grains ($50, plus $25 for beer pairings). Brewers Marc Lemay from Brasserie Dubuisson and Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield from Vanberg & Dewulf will attend the event, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and continues all evening long.
The contestants and the judges from Raising the Bar #2 (from left to right): Judge Nicholas Liberato/Comme Ca, Shana Street/Church & State, Victoria Recano, Sophie Gayot, Tim Loden/Comme Ca, Judge Yassmin Sarmadi/Church & State, Hector Bury/Joe’s, Judge Joe Miller/Joe’s
Chef Susan Spicer, known for her French Quarter restaurant, Bayona, is from Lakeview, a suburb of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As the area continues to rebound from the calamity, Spicer is set to open Mondo in her hometown.
Look for pizzas from wood-burning ovens, local seafood, ethnic specialties and handmade desserts at what she describes as a “comfortable, casual, upbeat neighborhood restaurant and bar with an international menu full of things you want to eat.” Bayona is known for its fabulous desserts, so expect nothing less from Mondo.