With a star-studded r?sum? that includes stints in such media-acclaimed restaurants as Yoshi's, Ambria, and Tribute?a Detroit-based eatery of his own that earned him a James Beard Award?it shouldn't be surprising that Takashi Yagihashi's latest culinary venture was a success. At his eponymous establishment, the chef crafts gourmet dishes inspired by his French culinary training and accented with the traditional flavors of his native Japan, creating a menu that has earned the restaurant a Michelin star and that Chicago magazine called "the finest Asian fusion cuisine in the city." Beyond acclaimed culinary skills, Yagihashi's vivacious personality earned him the title of Top Chef Masters Fan Favorite.
In a spartan dining room adorned with subtle art and slate-colored brick, diners savor entrees such as chicken in a clay pot simmering with shimeji mushrooms, eggplant, and yuzu juice, or soy-ginger caramel pork belly served with steamed buns. Yagihashi also highlights his versatility in a number of prix-fixe menus, such as the weekly 7- or 11-course Kaiseki dinner and a tasting menu that pairs each morsel with a complementary wine. While mulling over the menu, savvy wait staff offer their recommendations for the best wine, beer, or sake from the restaurant's lengthy drink lists, along with sweet post-meal choices such as Yagihashi's signature brown-egg dessert, which Chicago magazine says "elevates cr?me br?l?e to Zen-like perfection."
During warmer weather, Bistro Zinc swings open its floor-to-ceiling windows to let the sounds and breezes of the Gold Coast flow through its French-inspired dining room. The celebration of French flavors inside, however, occurs year-round, as Chef Tim Kirker’s menu flaunts a firm grasp on the country’s classic and contemporary dishes, from escargot and steak frites to grilled ham-and-gruyere sandwiches. Heartier courses include the vol-au-vent—a daily stew with puff pastry and creme fraiche mashed potatoes—and the garlicky roasted chicken, which is served with bacon, mushrooms, and potatoes. Though French cuisine is known for its meat-heavy nature, Serious Eats points out that all is not lost for herbivores: “Bistro Zinc’s menu is in fact quite amenable to meatless eating, with a couple of very tasty options.” But as with any French eatery, the desserts may be the highlight: a crème bruleé made with vanilla beans from Madagascar headlines a menu of ten decadent treats. Meanwhile, bartenders craft cocktails at the restaurant’s handcrafted zinc bar, which juts out from the side of a dining room awash with tin ceilings, tiled floors, and artwork-covered walls.
Most head chefs are chosen for their merit, skills, and ease in the kitchen. But at the new Alpine-themed restaurant, Table, Donkey and Stick, partners Shin Thompson and Matt Sussman—the former chef and general manager of Bonsoiree respectively—decided to go one step further in finding their next food collaborator, which is why they pitted six local chefs against each other to create a pop-up dinner menu of hearty European cuisine. Along with the general publics vote, Sussman and Thompson have since declared to Grub Street Chicago that Scott Manely—a protégé of Paul Virant—is the newest chef to join their crew. Sussman also mentioned to Grub Street Chicago that the new eatery—named after a Brothers Grimm fable—features a menu of "simple, honest food" that includes sausages and charcuterie. Freshly-made breads, from rustic rye baguettes to pretzel rolls, are also on hand to soak up the juices of hand-craved wild boar while glasses filled with Koval brandy warm the stomach and make the soul feel like Little Red Riding Hood stole Rapunzels hair and sold it to the Big Bad Wolf.
Epic is true to its name. The soaring ceilings and industrial accents make a bold first impression. And when Esquire named Epic one of its best new restaurants of 2010, they remarked "this is big Chicago food."
It's a compliment evident in Executive Chef Matt Pollock's menu, which applies a bold touch to regional American cuisine. He updates foie gras by searing and serving them with buttermilk donut holes and puts a twist on lobster rolls by lacing them with citrus. Slagel Family Farm steaks and handmade pasta round out the menu, and a raw bar stocked with fresh oysters offers a taste of the ocean that doesn't leave you with seaweed souvenirs.
Though guests can sip wine and craft cocktails in the dining room, many choose to socialize in a lounge where DJs spin records late into the night. Others head to a 3,000-square-foot rooftop terrace that affords them a place among the city's skyscrapers.
Chef Luis Perez boasts an extensive experience with food, with a childhood spent taste-testing his mother's traditional Mexican dishes and a decade mastering European bistro cuisine under Chicago chef Jack Jones. Like the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, the menu at Perez's Lincoln Square restaurant is a memorable meeting of France and Mexico, resulting in plates of smoked-duck nachos, mint-roasted lamb with brandy-guajillo sauce, and cremini-mushroom quesadillas filled with goat cheese. Surrounded by sunny yellow walls and flowing baby-blue drapes, guests dine on dishes that fuse savory and sweet, such as the almond-crusted trout covered in creamy coconut sauce or center-cut pork chops with plum mole. Desserts of caramel-covered flan and rich tres-leches sponge cake cap off these eclectic suppers, as diners raise toasts with glasses of BYO beverages.
Flip Crêpes got its start on the Chicago Farmers Markets circuit in 2003, slinging its warm and sweet or savory treats to steadily growing flocks of customers. Eventually, the company outgrew its humble beginnings and expanded to a location inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, where customers stop in for the crowd-pleasing crepes alongside a burgeoning roster of sandwiches and paninis. Four distinct menus address any and all cravings the day might present, including selections that tackle breakfast munchies with eggs and bacon, a passion for the savory with toasted options, salad cravings with fresh and crisp selections, and sweet teeth with desserts chock-full of Nutella, strawberries, and dulce de leche. The tender crepes will only wrap their eggy arms around healthy, high-quality ingredients, so the chefs avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other undesirable foodstuffs.