To keep tabs on every Chicago restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past thirty (or so). Bon appétit.
It’s easy to settle into Swift & Sons, the modern retro steakhouse from local dining experts Boka Group (Girl & the Goat, Momotaro) and B. Hospitality (Balena, Formento’s). There’s not much to this juggernaut of a concept: lots of throwback swagger, decor as memorable as a scene in Mad Men and quite becoming for its location on the ground floor of Google’s new headquarters in Fulton Market.
Chef Chris Pandel (formerly of the Bristol and Balena) is bringing a kind of cooking style to the chophouse that’s precise but not stifling (menu’s here). The kitchen's even made Beef Wellington, a nagging old hag on the standard steakhouse menu (served up for two). You’ve got options when it comes to the red meat, including a coterie of sauces. But don’t shy away from the ancillary dishes. The East-meets-West ricotta dumplings, for example, are as flavorful as any choice cut.
Fall beer season is in full swing, and there is no better place to celebrate than DryHop Brewery’s new sister spot located right on the Southport Corridor. There’s a lot to love about this brewpub. Comfortable atmosphere, solid food. The beer list is tightly curated, Belgian-inspired and extremely delicious. You’ll wanna grab a flight and order up to some fried oyster po’ boys and the Lyonnaise pizza.
Note to self: direct all business lunches here. Restoration Hardware’s new Gold Coast flagship has gotten a lot of buzz, mostly because of 3 Arts Club Cafe, the ground-level eatery from ace restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Au Cheval, Green Street Smoked Meats). It’s all very chic. Menu highlights include the slow-roasted beets, a simple fish prep and the RH Burger. Next time you’re looking for a relaxed afternoon with the missus, come here for window-shopping and a bite.
Past the bar and lounge and up the elevator to the third floor, the first thing you notice when stepping into Maple & Ash's dining room: it feels like a Gold Coast steakhouse. This bi-level hangout of dark woods, muted violets and greys and stiff martinis will make you wanna raise a glass whether you're celebrating a special occasion or not.
The neighborhood's buying into it and so are we. Every meal starts with a house martini shaken tableside. Call it their amuse booze. And it's only onwards and upwards from there. Wood-fired steakhouse is the idea, and chef David Ochs's cheeky menu offers up some exciting ingredient- and smoke-driven dishes. The crispy lamb ribs is our new favorite thing to eat in the Gold Coast, and you can't go wrong with the M&A Surf & Turf with a side of roasted bone marrow.
Let’s get right to the point: The Vig is a respectable sports bar. A refined Old Town joint that won’t be packed with Miller Lite-swilling riffraff. This place has a 1940s atmosphere about it: leather banquettes, blonde wood interiors and black-and-white vintage sports photography throughout. There’s draft wine. Also draft cocktails. Local breweries like Off Color and Deshtihl round out a draft list that’s better than your average sports bar. As for the food: solid, straightforward bar grub. Chicken wings. Baby back ribs. Bao buns. Y’know, the usual stuff.