‘Tis the season for eating, drinking and shopping! The latest new openings around Chicago and the North Shore bring us Amy Morton’s unexpected take on the French brasserie, a new bakery with a curated butter collection, the latest “pour-your-own” beer spot, and more. Here’s what’s new in town in Chicago and the suburbs.
Amy Morton’s “decidedly American” and “unconventionally French” Brasserie is headed up by James Beard Award-winning chef Debbie Gold. “Le Tour” means “circle” in French, and the name refers to both the circular layout of the restaurant — in the former rotunda of a bank building — and the “full circle” moments that brought Morton and Gold together again. This is a restaurant with its heart in the right place: Morton’s restaurant group, AMDP (Arnie Morton’s Daughter’s Place), will continue to hire entry-level staff from need-based populations, principally those who are working their way out of homelessness.
The menu at LeTour is rooted in classic French cooking techniques, which Gold knows quite well having lived and cooked in the Rhone Valley, as well as the foodways of Morocco, a former French colony. There is a strong seafood presence on the menu, and a wild fish will be offered every night. Guests may also select the L’Ami Louis Special of foie gras terrine, whole roast chicken and greens or a degustation menu of cheese paired with wine.
625 Davis Street, Evanston
Wheeling is the newest location for this “pour your own beer” bar concept, which seems to be catching on. “District Brew Yards … is the first to house a collective production brewery, beer hall and shop under one roof,” the website says. “We’re bringing small breweries together to share knowledge and assets in a collaborative manner.” This approach is good for brewers, but also for drinkers — and diners — because it gives you the chance to sip and match a number of fresh beers, paired with fine food.
And fine food there is, provided by BBQ World Champion Charlie McKenna (Tru, Avenues, Lillie’s Q), whose barbecue sauces we’ve seen on the shelves of stores in Europe, Northern Africa and all over the United States. It’s good stuff, and you can use it to enhance already excellent smoked meat. On the menu, some favorites include smoked chicken wings, pulled pork and brisket — all the much beloved favorites, as well as cool sides like Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Mac n’ Cheese and Buttermilk Sweet Onion Kettle Chips.
700 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling
Located in the West Loop, Coquette is right next door to Bombola, also from Bonhomme Hospitality. Coquette’s offerings are unpretentious, adventurous and they taste really good. In the kitchen are Chefs Marcos Campos, Erwin Mallet and Shannah Primiano, whose dishes reflect the casual sophistication of a French bistro. Expect plates like Magret De Canard — dry-aged duck breast, orange-infused duck jus, celeriac and nutmeg purée, wood-fire-roasted grapes; Sole Meuniere — charcoal-grilled whole Atlantic Dover sole, preserved lemon, herbes De Provence, smoked brown butter; and Boeuf Wellington —smoked dry-aged beef tenderloin, mushroom and anchovy duxelles, sea lettuce and wasabi crêpes, beef sauce Périgourdines – it’s a mouthful of good tastes.
The cellar is full of fantastic wines from Colin Hofer, Michelin Guide’s Sommelier of the Year, with a concentration on “natural wines from areas including Alsace, Jura, Savoie, and the Languedoc,” notes Chicago Eater. “Also look for lots of Champagnes and bubbles.”
165 W. Ogden Avenue, Chicago
The new “restaurant concept” at Chicago Winery is now open, and in the kitchen is Chef Andrew Graves of Alinea Group, Dusek’s Tavern, The Promontory — that’s a lot of Michelin stars. Deriving from the Scandinavian word for “life,” Liva’s menu promises to be a “deeply personal” expression of Graves’ passion for local producers and farms, including Slagel, Nichols and Wisconsin Fresh Aquaculture.
The opening menu — titled “Modern Chicago” — leverages local ingredients with international flavors, including starters like heirloom carrots with dukkah and labneh, smoking goose capicola with some of the Midwest’s finest cheeses, as well as a constantly changing “Chef’s Whim,” a shareable board of meats, cheeses and vegetables in a fun, impossible-to-predict combinations that, we’re told, “creates a unique experience for each guest.” Vegetable menu selections highlight seasonally inspired produce, and there’s also seafood delectables like grilled shrimp — yes, you can source such crustaceans locally! — and smoked fish dip. Magnificent meat options include venison tartare, Umami Short Ribs and lamb and squash sugo (sauce) over tagliatelle. If all this sounds fantastic, wait until you feast upon the bigger plates of whole branzino and a 52-ounce steak Florentine with Calabrian chili.
739 N. Clark Street, Chicago
Guildhall in Glencoe has been around for years, and now they’ve opened a new dining space: the Streetery. This enclosed and heated outdoor dining space gives you more options for enjoying this “American bistro with a sophisticated attitude.”
You can get a burger or a steak at Guildhall, but the restaurant also excels in seafood and veg-forward dishes. Popular items include Alaskan maki, with snow crab and salmon roe, and whole branzino, as well as a classic burger and steak frites. What you won’t find are the gargantuan steaks you never seem able to comfortably finish; what you will find are veg-forward offerings including roasted squash soup, Tuscan kale, Japanese sweet potatoes, and sunchokes. Cocktail options include the classics, like the Manhattan and Negroni, as well as original creations. There’s a lot to like at Guildhall Restaurant, and now there’s even more space to enjoy it.
694 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe
Stay Café, on the Northwest side, is open all-day and they want you to stay as long as you’d like to better enjoy their food, cocktails and gourmet coffee. “In addition to being an eatery, Stay Café aims to serve as a community hub, where guests can settle into comfortable seating with their laptop and a cup of coffee for virtual work, or meet with clients and colleagues over a meal or light snacks,” according to their press release.
Chef “Taco” Jesse Martinez (Sunda, Zed 451) oversees a menu of eclectic American fare with a wide range of dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacking and dinner. Owner Nick Karounos explains that Stay Café is the first of three concepts coming soon as part of a new neighborhood destination complex adjacent to Concord Music Hall. This planned development will include an elevated cocktail program and an underground speakeasy, Smoke & Mirrors.
2043 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
Adapting the brew pub model to the world of spirits and offering small batch spirits — rum, gin, whisky, are all distilled by a team headed up by owner Carrie Cole and her husband Andrew, who says “We’re spirits enthusiasts, excited to make our mark on the industry.”
Joining the Take Flight Spirits team are guest distillers from such well-regarded local distilleries as Journeyman in Indiana, who currently provide rye and vodka that, together with house spirits, go into marvelous cocktails. The aged rum Manhattan uses this all-American spirit and oak smoke to make a drink that seems just right for the cooler months; the white negroni uses Take Flight’s gin with Cocchi Americano and vermouth. Full On Crazy is a cocktail with grapefruit, simple syrup and a spirit made from beer — a distilled version of Revolution Brewing’s A Little Crazy. There’s also straight-up beer on the menu, as well as wine as well as non-alcoholic options.
8038 N. Lincoln Avenue, Skokie
This delicious spot in Winnetka promises to be an excellent source for baked goods and seasonal butters. “Walking into our bakery means being immediately greeted by a delightful smell of freshly baked treats no one can resist,” Owner Don Reilly — Brittany’s dad — explains. “As a neighborhood bakery that serves the local community, we are committed to using the best ingredients and serving you delicious, handcrafted baked goods. We use original family recipes — keeping true to the original creations that you will get to know and love.”
One somewhat original offering at Brittany’s is the well-curated collection of butters. You may have noticed that “butter boards” are trending, and at Brittany’s, your butter board will become truly memorable. Brittany’s selection of “finishing butters” includes 3-Berry Butter — blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in a house-made caramel sauce that you can use instead of syrup on your pancakes; and Citrus Butter — pineapple, lemon and lime in a delicately sweet house-made syrup.
544 Lincoln Avenue, Winnetka
This contemporary gallery is opening a second space in Skokie, announcing that it “will be a unique art and design destination for those living in and around Chicago’s North Shore and suburbs.”
Attorney and art collector Zachary Williams wanted to bring some of what he loved about the city to his hometown of Skokie, so he bought a building next to Latin-inspired hot spot Libertad and worked with his favorite art dealer and vintage furniture expert to realize his dream. Western Exhibitions will share a newly renovated space with WHO Modern, a high-end vintage furniture and design shop. This new location will also expand on the Chicago location’s programing with five curated exhibitions, the first of which will feature Geoffrey Todd Smith’s colorful abstractions in an exhibit entitled Sweet 16: 16 Years of Geoffrey Todd Smith at Western Exhibitions, running through January 7, 2023.
7933 N. Lincoln Avenue, Skokie
A brand known for “extreme research on fibers and textiles applied to innovative design,” Stone Island is opening a new location, designed by architectural firm OMA, in the Gold Coast neighborhood. If you’ve ever seen Stone Island clothing and accessories, you know it’s coming from a new and exciting place: Stone Island clothing leverages new materials and production techniques that result in a “look” both aesthetically striking yet highly functional and comfortable. Drake, Adam Driver and James Corden have all been seen in Stone Island fashions.
“Stone Island is unique, respected for its vision of product research and experimentation, always linked to functionality. It is an iconic brand with a strong DNA,” said Carlo Rivetti, CEO of Stone Island. “The people who work for Stone Island are passionate, and that passion is transmitted to our followers and customers, now for almost 40 years.”
48 E. Oak Street, Chicago
A brick-and-mortar, actual bookstore returns to Old Orchard Shopping Center just opposite the Cheesecake Factory. After closing in 2021 after 27 years, the Chicagoland favorite is back with a 20,000-square-foot retail space selling volumes made of actual paper — almost unbelievable, right? Barnes & Noble is the largest retail book source in the US, with approximately 600 bookstores across the country, as well as the Nook Digital, which offers ebooks and audiobooks on a subscription basis — but it’s always nice to actually walk around a bookstore.
The two-story building will also house — appropriately enough — a Paper Source store. “Our history in Old Orchard was rich, marked by the people we serve and the stories we shared,” says Amy Fitzgerald, VP of Stores at Barnes and Noble. “Our booksellers, led by store manager Mary Mateer, are looking forward to celebrating this holiday season in our new location with friends and booklovers, new and old.”
4909 Old Orchard Center, Skokie
Health & Fitness
Rise Nation, specializing in fitness climbing and cardio classes, has opened its first location in Chicago. Promising more than a workout, Rise Nation utilizes a training method of “choreographed climbing” developed by nationally known trainer Jason Walsh. Walsh aims to provide effective, efficient and, most importantly, safe workouts combined with his passion for music and art.
So, what can you expect when you walk into Rise Nation? Well, for one, a lot of Versaclimbers are there to provide a full-body, high-intensity, low-impact exercise experience on an upright climbing mechanism with variable resistance. The Versaclimber safely engages the whole body in a constant vertical ascent, without strain or impact. It’s a trip. As a new mom reported on Buzzchomp, “the classes were intense and pushed us … it’s low impact, so even though you’re squatting and climbing into low levels and high levels, you’re not going to hurt yourself.”
667 N. Wells Street, Chicago
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David Hammond is Dining and Drinking Editor at Newcity and contributes to the Chicago Tribune and other publications. In 2004, he co-founded LTHForum.com, the 15,000 member food chat site; for several years he wrote weekly “Food Detective” columns in the Chicago Sun-Times; he writes weekly food columns for Wednesday Journal. He has written extensively about the culinary traditions of Mexico and Southeast Asia and contributed several chapters to “Street Food Around the World.”
David is a supporter of S.A.C.R.E.D., Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education and Development, an organization founded by Chicagoan Lou Bank and dedicated to increasing awareness of agave distillates and ensuring that the benefits of that awareness flow to the villages of Oaxaca, Mexico. Currently, S.A.C.R.E.D is funding the development of agave farms, a library and water preservation systems for the community of Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca.