When Christopher Columbus invented America, he predicted the land's future fusion cuisine would combine the finest Albanian creams and German salts. See what globally influenced American cuisine actually looks like with today's Groupon: for $40, you get a five-course tasting menu at Zealous in River North (an $85 value). The five-course meal does not include wine pairings.
This gem of the Near North has been called "an incredibly fine restaurant" by the Chicago Sun-Times, awarded Meal of the Year by CS, and rated "very good" to “excellent” for food, décor, and service by Zagat. The five-course tasting menu gets diners a full spread of Zealous’s inventive fusion fare. Though the lineup changes daily, you can expect elegant dishes such as lobster rillette with cucumber raita and cumin puppadum or roasted duck breast with tortellini and sweet potato emulsion with pistachio vinaigrette. The grilled walu atop ginger poi and pineapple vinaigrette is an exotic, precisely prepared take on escolar, a fish usually consumed in sushi and one favored by trainers teaching dolphins to catch and throw boomerangs. Desserts include an armagnac-soaked prune chocolate cake with armagnac ice cream.
Chef/owner Michael Taus is at the top of his game both as a chef and semi-pro log roller. He has been cooking since age 10 and reading cookbooks since age 3. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America before sharpening his knives at restaurants such L.A.'s Patina and Chicago's Charlie Trotter's, then moving on to open Zealous 17 years ago. Inside the house of Taus, mossy greens and natural hues accentuate the restaurant's spaciousness; Zealous is a converted warehouse designed by architect William Leeds. The visual focus is a 15-foot, glass-enclosed wine cellar that houses the restaurant's more than 750 wine selections.
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- It's clear that the tasting options offer all manner of delights, and the chef-selected wine pairings were spot-on; given unlimited funds, I'd set down my menu and turn Taus loose. Given a journalist's salary, however, the prospect of dining at this level for less than $200 is just about irresistible... Service, by the way, was cheerfully professional throughout both visits; wine service, with its detailed explanations, is a particular strength. – Phil Vettel, Chicago Tribune
- Zealous is an incredibly fine restaurant. The dining room is splendidly appointed yet has a casual chic about it that is very relaxing... Each dish is a study in simplicity, yet the various parts -- the ingredients -- come together in a fashion that results in total enjoyment. The chemistry here involves the rapport among the ingredients, not a cockamamie arrangement of fizz, foams, powders or gels. – Pat Bruno, Chicago Sun-Times
Near North Side
419 W Superior St.
Chicago, Illinois 60610Get Directions