CHICAGO’S CULINARY TRAPEZE
In town for the 2013 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show? Don’t miss these high-flying dining spots. BY ETHEL HAMMER
As Chicago chefs mount the 2013 culinary trapeze, some soar to
previously unexplored altitudes and elevations, while others sail at
comfier heights. These six inviting restaurants have opened since
the 2012 NRA Show, with the exception of one, where a new
chef changes the game plan.
BAUME & BRIX
351 W. HUBBARD ST. // (312) 321-0351
Do you want to laugh a lot, be reduced to your savage center
then flip to the most frivolous you? Do you believe your food
should play with you, not that you should play with your food?
If so, Baume & Brix won’t disappoint. This is where the offbeat
meets the delicious, where whimsy meets yummy, where oddities
make magic. Thank chefs/partners Thomas Bowman and Ben
Roche and chef de cuisine Nate Park.
What happens when a Berkshire pork chop in its rich, dark
Luxardo cherry sauce reduces you to savage luxury as you
gnaw it to the bone? How about a tiny glass jar of egg salad
topped by chicken liver mousse inviting you to make itty-bitty
Above left: Baume & Brix’s gas fireplace offers a warm welcome. The panna cotta trifle
(right) has beet gelatin, rose meringues and pistachios. Above right: The restaurant’s
private dining space. Opposite left: Diners at The Lobby enjoy whole roast chicken
presented with bouquets of rosemary and thyme. Opposite right: At Trenchermen,
indulge in corn donuts with mascarpone sorbet and peach/tomato molasses.
sandwiches on focaccia, just like you did in your mama’s kitchen
once upon a time? Oh, so many good things can happen to you
at Baume & Brix.
Like a naked Cleopatra, Naked Lobster arrives in a long,
slim boat rowed onward by unusual oarsmen: parsnip slaw, potato
coconut foam and crispy celery root. Burrata cheese swaggers
into the room with sweet dates, pepita nuts and bacon. Add black
glass, exposed brick walls and a gas fireplace in the main dining room, and you’re allowed to feel like a classy adult as you
descend to your humorous, lusty center.
The menu is divided into Explore, Summit, Divide and Conquer,
signaling the chefs’ high aspirations, which include the desire
to attain Michelin status. There’s duck breast with mushroom
duxelles, pickled squash and barley risotto. And black cod with
forbidden rice, too, as well as red curry short rib with coconut,
lemon and flowering kale.
Grilled Brun-uusto cheese with quince and rooibos ice
cream vaults you into the satisfying mysteries of savory desserts. And panna cotta trifle with its shockingly fuchsia beet
gelatin, tiny rose meringues and pistachios had us as giddy
and hysterical as kids ready to run away with our fork and our
spoon and jump over the moon.
And while we were up there we plucked them a star.
Starters: $10-$16 // Entrees: $18-$28 // Desserts: $9-$24