For a new modern American option, check out Evanston’s Boltwood, a farm-to-table spot from Brian Huston (ex-The Publican), showcasing everything from pristine oysters to aged sirloin with winter squash, black garlic and caperberry gremolata, and roasted pears with orange cake, figs and toasted almond ice cream. Expect interesting, but unfussy, sips to go with. Boltwood, 804 Davis St., Evanston, IL 60201, 847-859-2880.
Chef Homaro Cantu (iNG, Moto) is nearing the finish line with Berrista, a soon-to-open coffeehouse in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. While specifics have been fairly limited, the "miracle berry" is expected to be featured, along with donuts, sodas and chicken on a cheddar-bacon waffle with maple mustard. Berrista, 4219 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, IL 60641, no phone.
Takito’s Mario Ponce and Anshul Mangal plan to open counter-service ramen spot Furious Spoon, with Shin Thompson (Bonsoiree, Kabocha) in the kitchen. Thompson will make the noodles in-house, using a machine he brought back from Japan. Expect a handful of varieties, along with saké and beer, when it opens in February in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Furious Spoon, 1571 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622, no phone.
For an updated take on Italian, give Billy Lawless' (The Gage) Acanto a whirl. Situated in the former Henri spot, you can bet something sustaining is on hand, whether you settle on suckling pig or creamy duck egg spaghetti with spicy ground pork, pearl onions and rapini, all courtesy of Chris Gawronski. Acanto, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603, 312-578-0763.
Boka Restaurant Group (Girl & The Goat, GT Fish & Oyster) has opened Momotaro, a three-story Japanese joint in a former warehouse in the West Loop. D.C. transplant Mark Hellyar (Citronelle, Nora, and Blue Duck Tavern) handles the kitchen concoctions, while Jeff Ramsey (Tapas Molecular Bar in Tokyo) tackles the sushi. Momotaro, 820 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-733-4818.
“Top Chef” contestant Spike Mendelsohn (also of "Midnight Feast”) plans to open an offshoot of Good Stuff Eatery at 22 S. Wabash Ave. in the Loop by late November. Good Stuff Eatery, 22 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60603, no phone.
Jeff Mahin and Lettuce Entertain You opened Stella Barra Pizzeria, an industrial-feeling sister spot to Cali-style Summer House Santa Monica. The edited menu offers California-style red or white-sauced pizzas, meatballs and pastas, plus a list of boutique wines, craft (and draft) cocktails and microbrews. Stella Barra Pizzeria, 1954 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614, 773-634-4101.
The 2015 Return of Chicago Restaurant Week
Chicago Restaurant Week returns January 30-February 12, 2015, with prix-fixe menus starting at $22 for lunch and $33/$44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity). For a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.choosechicago.com
What’s Next at Next
Tickets are now available for the "Trio" menu at Next Restaurant. It revisits a menu chef Grant Achatz served in January 2004 that helped lead to the creation of Alinea. Next Restaurant, 953 W. Fulton St., Chicago, IL 60607, 312-226-0858.
Steve Morgan (ex-Alinea) will be the wine director at the soon-to-open red sauce spot Formento's, which comes courtesy of The Bristol crew. Formento's, 925 W. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60607, no phone.
Dan Marquis, the former executive chef at Quay, moved on to head the kitchen at Epic. Epic, 112 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-222-4940.
Aaron Browning (Koda, Tavernita) replaced Gray McNally as the chef at clubby, classic Chicago-inspired Tortoise Club. Tortoise Club, 350 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60654, 312-755-1700.
Lee Wolen is now the executive chef at Boka, replacing Giuseppe Tentori (GT Fish & Oyster). Boka, 1729 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60614, 312-337-6070.
Chrissy Camba’s Laughing Bird closed after just five months in business. As of now, she plans to open a dumpling house elsewhere in the near future. Laughing Bird, 4514 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60625, no phone.
Homaro Cantu’s West Loop eatery iNG has closed its doors. iNG, 951 W. Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607, no phone.
It’s official, and heart-wrenching for Chicagoans: wildly popular Hot Doug’s is officially closed. A burger joint will open in its place. Hot Doug’s, 3324 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60618, no phone.
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