Esquire's 2010 list of best new restaurants is out and, after completely ignoring Chicago last year, writer John Mariani taps two Chicago spots and another by one of our top chefs.
Logan Square's hipster gastropub Longman & Eagle and the River North behemoth hot spot Epic were both named as two of the hottest new restaurants in America. And no huge surprise based on star wattage, Red O, the Los Angeles neuvo Mexicano spot with Rick Bayless as consulting chef, also made the cut, being honored with best design of the year.
Recognizing that Chicago has fully embraced the gastropub movement, Mariani writes that, "Longman & Eagle, which modestly calls itself a whisky bar, burns through the cliches via chef Jared Wentworth's ingenious gutsy cooking ... You don't come here just for a burger, you come for the fried duck cojones and a flight from the selection of thirty-plus whiskies." The L&E page also includes a food-and-whisky-pairing primer by Wentworth. That's sage advice we can get behind.
Mariani gives props to Epic's grand stature, with its 3,000 square-foot roof deck, 20-foot-high windows, massive downstairs lounge and the three-story industrial staircase. But he says what ties it all together is Chef Stephen Wambach's cooking. "Flavors are big, portions are huge, and only vegetarians walk out hungry ... This is big Chicago food, tamed to suit Americans' growing desire to eat better-quality food crafted by soulful chefs."
Eater National has Esquire's full list of best new restaurants, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten's New York City restaurant ABC Kitchen as best in America overall.