From the team that opened popular spots Boka and Landmark comes this farm fresh-focused American-style bistro. The kitchen is helmed by chef de cuisine Ryan Poli, formerly of Butter, named by Esquire as one of the best new restaurants in 2005. When Butter closed, Poli headed to Spain to study pastry and hone his savory chops once more under the Spanish new wave, with stints at El Celler de Can Roca and Alkimia in Barcelona. Though he's also worked for Ferrán Adrià disciple Sergi Arola at La Broche and done time at the French Laundry under Thomas Keller, Poli is one off those chefs who believes culinary learning is a lifelong process.
When we spoke with him recently, he told us that he's excited about his pork tenderloin with corn and fava bean succotash, and roasted corn spoon bread (aka poor man's souffle). Appetizers run about $10, with most entrees around $20. 1800 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL 60614 (near North Clark Street; map); 312-981-7070; perennialchicago.com
It's usually a tough proposition to get me to leave the city for food, but this spot in Clarendon Hills comes from former Charlie Trotter's chef Bill Kim, who's been turning out some my favorite French-Asian fusion food as the executive chef of Le Lan here in Chicago. Kim has partnered up with Karen Nicolas, who has cooked at New York City's Gramercy Tavern among other places.
Kim and Nicolas are offering soul-satisfying comfort food including short rib pot pie, braised oxtail over black-eyed peas, and pork belly ramen with fresh egg noodles. Early returns say the portions are huge and the waitstaff is spirited. 1 Walker Avenue, Clarendon Hills IL 60514; (near Railroad Avenue; map); 630-920-1999
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