There’s no surer sign of success than the expansion to new locations of beloved businesses, and there are plenty of note this month. Salad mecca Sweetgreen opens a new location in Evanston, Soul & Smoke expands to Chicago, and La Boulangerie opens its third location — this time in Humboldt Park. A few fine dining favorites have reopened too — George Trois and Aboyer welcome guests back to Winnetka and Eden takes over new digs in Avondale. Plus, playfully immersive concepts open at the Fairmont Chicago and at WHIM on West Belmont. Here’s what’s new in town this month around Chicago and the suburbs.
Food & Drink
George Trois + Aboyer, Winnetka’s two landmark restaurants from Chef Michael Lachowicz return after months of renovation with redesigned interiors/exteriors and menus, all reimagined to fit chef’s continuously refined personal vision. These are two new restaurants under one roof, each with a distinctive personality.
When we asked him about the style of the new spaces, Chef Lachowicz told us, “The personality and vibe of the new George Trois and Aboyer? Simply put, they present an unapologetically ‘Michael-style’ of French cuisine. The cooking that I have been perfecting for 35 years, now on full display on two dramatically different stages, yet both delivering the same result: sophistication and approachability.” That sophistication and approachability is apparent in Aboyer dishes like the classic charcuterie board and escargot Bourguignon, and in more finessed George Trois’ “avant-garde, 10-course tasting menu with skillfully crafted, innovative French cuisine,” such as the morel-crusted loin of rabbit and the roast squab in brown butter Bearnaise sauce. Magnifique!
64 Green Bay Road, Winnetka
WHIM just sounds like a big fun time. It’s an “immersive cocktail experience, combining an inventive bar and a world where all art forms come together: paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance to create a whimsical experience.”
With a mission of putting artists back to work and audiences back to play, Stage 773 is the not-for-profit organization bringing WHIM to Chicago. Walking into the WHIM space, guests enter the Lobby of Second Chances, a cool exhibition of art created using found objects; the Lobby also features additional art installations and Second Shots bar. Visitors can stroll through the Enchanted Forest, which features a stage for live performances and, of course, an enchanted tree. Cocktails include liquid creations like Tarty Party (vodka, triple sec, fresh lemon and lime juice, lime soda and magic syrup made of pea flower); and the Chain Smoker (tequila, mezcal, bitters and agave syrup, flavored with cherry smoke). Sound intriguing? There’s more to come in the coming months.
1225 Belmont Ave., Chicago
sweetgreen, recognized as *the* place to go for stunning salads, opens its latest location in Evanston with seasonal patio, large interior pickup window, and a spacious dining area to serve families, professionals, and students from nearby Northwestern University. The new dining area is sleekly designed, with unique artwork created by David Esquivel, a Chicago-based abstract painter.
The mission of sweetgreen is to build “healthier communities by connecting people with real food,” and new offerings include Peach + Goat Cheese salad, Summertime Teriyaki Bowl, and Pesto Summer Veggies. Though the menu leans heavily toward vegetables, there are some delicious creations of poultry and fish protein including a Chicken Tostada (blackened chicken, tomatoes, raw carrots, cilantro, tortilla chips, goat cheese, warm quinoa, and baby spinach) and a Fish Taco (steelhead, avocado, shredded cabbage, cilantro, tortilla chips, warm quinoa, and arugula).
1601 Sherman Ave., Evanston
Soul & Smoke, with locations in Evanston and at Rockwell on the River, is getting a reputation for beautiful chef-crafted barbecue and comfort food like signature mac n’ cheese, collard greens and homemade pickles. Soul & Smoke’s Evanston outpost was voted Best New Restaurant — Suburbs by Better readers in 2021. The new Rockwell on the River location will also serve Executive Chef D’Andre Carter’s famous slow roasted and smoked meats including rib tips, pulled pork and prime brisket.
“What’s better than riverfront dining and barbecue? Chef Carter asked us, rhetorically, adding “We knew Rockwell on the River was the perfect location for Soul & Smoke and we’re so excited to work alongside some amazing Chicago businesses. What excites us about moving our previous Avondale ghost kitchen location to Rockwell is we get to stay in the community and finally meet all our supporters in the neighborhood and connect with them face-to-face. Plus, it’s a dream come true to have a riverfront patio. While our home base is still in Evanston, we are excited to continue growing our business in the Chicago area and thought Rockwell’s amazing community was the perfect place to do so.”
3517 N. Rockwell St., Chicago
The Lake House at the Fairmont Chicago captures “the magic of lake living with a new summer experience,” to wit: their lobby area has been transformed into an environment that evokes a lakeside community. With a boathouse built around the Fairmont bar, as well as porch swings, rock stacking, and sandcastles, the Fairmont has created an environment and a vibe that are sure to bring back childhood memories of summer fun on the lake.
To go with the atmosphere, William Schultz, the Director of Food and Beverage, has developed a seasonal menu that includes summer-inspired deliciousness like beef brisket, pork ribs, fried calamari, peel-and-eat shrimp, and a mind-blowing seafood platter of lobster, clams, and mussels. There will also be maritime amusements, like yacht excursions, and miles of beaches and harbors to maximize your enjoyment of Chicago’s all-too-brief warmer months. According to the Fairmont, “we have captured the spirit of summer on the lake, and we have been inspired to bring you our version of the Lake House—a place to celebrate the best season in the world’s greatest city.”
200 N. Columbus Dr., Chicago
Kala is a stylish Lincoln Park restaurant that modernizes some Greek culinary traditions with sparkling results. “Kala’s mission,” we’re told, “is to pay homage to Greek fare while offering modern flavors and innovative processes, with recipes on the chef-driven menu coming directly from one of the partners’ family in Greece.”
On the menu at Kala (derived from the Greek word for “good”), you’ll see a lot of familiar dishes, like chicken and pork souvlaki, but there are many more dishes that use tradition as a springboard to leap into inventive versions of the Greek food you’ve come to love. Here, feta cheese is baked in flaky phyllo, drizzled with honey, flecked with sesame seeds (could be a starter or dessert); the chicken souvlaki sandwich is dressed with Cara Cara orange, pickled red onion, fennel, garlic-cucumber yogurt, and crumbled feta. Kala offers counter service, and the experience is meant to merge the precise deliciousness of fine dining with the easygoing vibe of a casual, yet sophisticated urban restaurant.
2523 N. Clark St., Chicago
Eden, which closed its Lake Street location early in the pandemic, is reopening in Avondale and continuing its tradition of ever-evolving menus that leverage seasonal flavors from an on-site greenhouse. Owner Jodi Fyfe and Chef/Partner Devon Quinn, along with Executive Chef Miles Schaefer, are excited to continue the Eden tradition in a new location. “One of the elements missing from our old location,” Fyfe told us, “was a direct connection with nature. We were always trying to make Eden an oasis, so when we found a place right on the river with a walking path, it felt like it was destined to be. Having an open space to work with allowed us to expand our greenhouse, so more produce can be grown through the year.”
Growing on site ensures that Eden’s all natural ingredients will be harvested at the peak of flavor and freshness. Eden’s greenhouse produce is supplemented with fruits and vegetables from the Green City Market, Nichols Farm and Orchard, and Iron Creek Farm. Crafted cocktails – featuring some super-fresh herbs! – have always played a critical role at Eden, and that focus on brilliant, hand-crafted cocktails continues at the new space.
2734 W. Roscoe, Chicago
Wild Orchids Café + Kitchen in Lincoln Square serves stunning Venezuelan pastries, empanadas and beverages. According to the website, the cafe focuses on “serving you a specialty coffee accompanied by tasty food based on a rich and healthy diet. Our offer is complemented with natural beverages without artificial additives, aromatic infusions, and a contemporary menu rich in flavors delicately combined to surprise your palate.”
Selections from the “contemporary menu” include standouts like the gluten-free chicken empanada and the fried empanada filled with garlic mushrooms. To drink, there are some intriguing options, like a Pink Latte with beetroot, milk, and spices; and the Spirulatte with spirulina plankton for a burst of energy.
2547 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago
Piccolo Buco, in Oak Brook Center opened in June to offer a new kind of “fusion” cuisine, joining the classic pizzas of Rome and Naples in one pan. Chef Luca Issa explained to us that his “beautiful, airy crust is a mix of different textures, soft and crispy,” joining the simple, sometimes almost moist Neapolitan pie with the crustier, focaccia-like Roman pies.
In addition to the pizza pies, Chef Issa is offering classic dishes from Rome and Naples. From Rome, for instance, there’s suppli, rice balls in tomato sauce with Calabrian sausage, basil, and pecorino Romano; from further south, there’s Crispy Stuffed Squash Blossoms with four cheeses, preserved lemon aioli and tomato fondue. Of course, because Piccolo Buco is part of the Cooper’s Hawk family of restaurants, there will be an abundance of good wine, and the menu helps guide you to find just the right pairing for your chosen dishes.
1818 Oak Brook Center, Oak Brook
Hide + Seek is coming to Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row in the old space of Vivo. Advance publicity promises that the restaurant will fuse “comfortable elegance and a Creative-American shared plates menu” served in an environment of “laid-back luxury and a sense of connection, encouraging guests to stick around, order another drink, and focus on the people you’re with.”
The menu balances vegetables and proteins with small plates like house-made malfatti dumplings in ‘nduja butter and thinly sliced short rib “bulgogi” that’s been marinated in grape mostarda before being served over farro. For larger appetites, there’s the 60-day dry-aged ribeye and Dover sole, roasted in a pan and dressed with corn and citrus beurre blanc. To pair with all of this, Hide + Seek has an admirable wine and beer list, and some amazing cocktails including Raspberry Beret (in the tradition of the classic Clover Club) with raspberry and gin, and City of Lights, with whisky and grapefruit, a surprisingly winning combination.
838 W. Randolph, Chicago
La Boulangerie in Humboldt Park is the third location of this exceedingly popular, local French-style bakery. Delayed for almost two years by the pandemic, this bakery/café is now open and serving up macarons, baguettes and other European (and many times decidedly French) baked goods. According to their website, all baked goods “are made from scratch daily with the highest quality organic flour imported straight from the motherland, France… We collaborate directly with Les Grands Moulins de Paris, flour millers since 1919, to guarantee the best quality and taste of our superior quality products.”
In addition to an immense range of baked deliciousness, there’s a lunch menu of salads, soups, sandwiches, and pizza. La Boulangerie’s prepared foods can be taken away or enjoyed on the premises, and La Boulangerie is also a market of imported goods, including cheese, wine, and other specialty market goods.
936 N. California Ave., Chicago
Judson & Moore is Chicago’s newest distillery, and a lot more, including an onsite shop stocked with the creations of local, sustainable artisan producers, as well as live music programming and production tours. It all begins with the spirits from the American heartland: Judson & Moore whiskies are distilled using Midwestern grains and Lake Michigan water, and they’re aged in Minnesota white oak barrels.
First releases include rye, bourbon, red corn, and single malt whiskies. Aged two years and bottled just this spring; these meticulously crafted spirits are available to take home or to enjoy in Judson & Moore’s tasting room, about which owner Elise Bergman told us, “The space is industrial yet refined and though spacious and airy, still cozy. We hope for the atmosphere to feel creative, collaborative, and inviting while creating enjoyable experiences for guests. Vintage glassware and homegrown herbs and garnishes add artful touches to the cocktails. A knowledgeable and friendly team with backgrounds ranging from engineering to art and design to hospitality to music production contribute to the welcoming environment.”
3057 N. Rockwell St., Building 5, 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.