Come June, Logan Square will get yet another hot restaurant opening, this time from the team behind Webster's Wine Bar and The Bluebird: Tom MacDonald and Jason Norman. The still-unnamed restaurant at 2601 N. Milwaukee will feature avec sous chef John Anderes cooking European regional cuisine using American "farm to table" ingredients.
The 85-seat restaurant, scheduled to open mid-June, will source much of the ingredients locally while pulling inspiration from distinctive European wine regions to craft the seasonally changing menu. Anderes said his menu will pair with the wine program being crafted by Webster's sommerlier, Jeremy Quinn. "If we're tasting Northern Italian wines from like Alto Adige, the menu will mimick that," Anderes said. "If we sit down with the staff and taste a '94 Barbaresco we'll base dishes off [that] region's specific wines."
Anderes said the menu, which he is creating with sous chef David Ford (Violet Hour, C-House), will focus only on about 15 or so items—first and second courses—total. "It's going to be a really small menu," he said. "A lot of my technique can be considered European, but I'm also Midwestern. I'm not trying to be some Euro dude." Some dishes that will likely appear on the opening menu include Blue Pool oysters with Midwestern lamb with green strawberry mignonette; sweetbreads with linguine, rhubard, agrodolce, oregano and mesquite honey; and a sour pasta, which Anderes describes as buttermilk pasta mimicking spaetzle with grilled chicory, radicchio and endive with smoked ham hock mousse.
"I'm a big fan of locking down a menu," Anderes said. "A lot of places say they change the menu every day and to me that just gets away from focus. I think once a month or every six weeks we'll do a full menu change, but it depends on the season."
The restaurant will have two rooms—a bar and a main dining room. You'll enter into the bar, where seating will mainly be high-tops. The back room will have a long banquette with eight tables and a smaller bar adjoined to a 14-seat communal table where they will host occasional chef dinners, special wine events and other private tastings.
Quinn's wine program will focus entirely on European wine, featuring a vintage wine program by the half bottle so "people can afford to drink some really cool wines," Anderes said. There will also be approximately a dozen glass pours and they'll feature large-format bottles, like magnums, for special chef's dinners at the communal table. The restaurant will not have any bottled beer, rather it'll highlight European beers on draught.
The space is being designed by fc Studio, which is co-owned by Rachel Crowl; Crowl is married to former Charlie Trotter's chef de cuisine Matthias Merges, who is also opening a restaurant in the area. The space will feature a lot of banat wood, which MacDonald is importing from Mexico.
The tables will be constructed of 200-year-old antique pine with bases made of rolled iron for a bit of an industrial look, Norman said. The back bar will be built entirely out of reclaimed lumber from Wisconsin. Clear jug lights will hang over the back bar, green bomb-shelter lights will be over the main bar and iron fixtures will illuminate the communal table. And large windows will look out onto Milwaukee Avenue and Logan Square.
Once the team settles on a name, we'll be sure to let you know what it's called.
[Photo: John Anderes]