So if you crave ingenuity and subtle perfumes, let the
Brothers Sheerin invite you to become a culinary daredevil.
This former 1920s bathhouse is just the place for you to fall
into a pool of invention.
Mount the high dive with organic Scottish salmon with braised
red cabbage, pumpernickel dumplings and wonderful candied
quinoa. Dive into little fried pickle tots on bubblegum-pink yogurt
with ribbons of smoky chicken bresaola. Or languish in baby-soft
gnocchi in melty ricotta cream with fresh ham and truffles.
Real culinary esthetes must try the chestnut agnolotti with
pickled red grapes, butternut squash/miso broth and Thai basil.
Joined by pastry chef Lisa Bonjour, Trenchermen will put smiles on
your face just like that other Lisa (think, Mona). Still, diners beware!
No magical phone booth exists. You cannot doff your street clothes
and don your Super Trencherman/SuperTrencherwoman tights and
cape. But who cares?
Devour the fried chicken thighs with fresh mushrooms and
sweet popcorn grits. Try skate wing or aged Pekin duck. Bonjour’s
light-as-air focaccia makes the efforts of others seem like hockey
pucks. And her delicate, lively desserts, including citrus cake
with grapefruit, deserve a whole review all by themselves, homage
to her gutsy inventiveness. Soon, we were upside-down on the
culinary trapeze, diners as daring as these culinarians working
with talented sous chef Rebecca LaMalfa.
Trenchermen is a tribute to audacious culinarians unafraid
to stand as their true selves.
Starters: $5-$15 // Entrees: $21-$30 // Desserts: $9
Bottom left: Sepia noodles with avocado, chive, garlic and pickled watermelon
FLYING AT COMFIER ALTITUDES
While the chef’s family is from Calabria, where folkloric
witches (stregas) are rumored to prescribe tortoise blood or puppy
dog’s hearts to heal what ails you, Bar Toma promises not to
stretch your palate beyond its comfort zone. It’s a chummy kind
of a place, orchestrated by Chicago celebrity chef Tony Mantuano.
Prepare yourself for a few surprises, though, as the menu balances
flavors you know and those you don’t.
Just to be festive, we ate antipasti, entrees, pizzas and desserts
in any order imaginable, and we’re here to inform that you can’t
start an Italian meal with gelati. But you don’t have to wear a
cocktail dress or don a jacket in this glammed-up Italian pizza
“palazzo” with enough TV screens to double as a sports bar and
enough counters, tables and bars to accommodate all the pizza
and gelati lovers in Chicago.
We were savoring marvelously spiced Sicilian chicken with
sour-tasting pachino tomatoes. And enjoying bitter arugula
strewn atop a salad of gorgonzola, hazelnuts and beets. Then,
just as we reached for our licorice Calabrian potato chips, in
pranced, guess who? Strega Fregula, a wild and woolly witch
straight from Calabria, who plunked herself down at our table.
You can’t stop Fregula. She’s up. She’s down. She’s all over
the place. “Fantastico!” she screamed, as she wolfed down the
caprino pizza with goat cheese, hazelnuts, Acetaia San Giacomo
PHOTO CREDITS Bottom, left, Hugh Galdones; above right, Galdones Photography (left) and Jeff Kauck; opposite, Jamco Creative
110 E. PEARSON ST. // (312) 266-3110