Ever since Grace O'Malley's shuttered early last year, speculation has been high about what would take over that prime spot on Michigan Avenue. Last month, news broke that Mainstay Hospitality, the group that owned Grace O'Malley's, as well as the Chicago Firehouse, would redesign the space and open City Tavern with chef Kendal Duque.
The 100-seat 18th century-inspired tavern with gas lantern lights, coal bucket fireplace and 30-foot solid walnut bar, seeks to hark back to the days when "dining was built around an experience, not just a meal, and when the whole community gathered to share beer out of the cask." The menu will reflect the various cultures that came together and take a modern approach on classic dishes using seasonal, fresh ingredients.
The menu, where everything comes in under $20, is broken into eight categories like flatbreads (wild mushrooms, roasted garlic purée and crisp black kale), starters (cobb shrimp salad with avocado, radish, feta and creamy bacon dressing; mussels steamed in saison ale with bread crumbs, apples and chorizo), from the grill (berkshire pork chop with apples, arugula and grilled bacon), entrees (sea scallops with cavatelli pasta, hen of the woods, crisp artichokes and goat cheese cream; pan roasted cauliflower with farro, dried fruit and pine nut vinaigrette) and from the cellar; that last one focuses on a really nice selection of artisan cheeses and charcuterie. Check out the full menu below.
This being a tavern, the beverage program focuses on a huge craft beer list with 18 tap beers and another 75 to 100 in bottle and will carry a number of locals like Finch's, 5 Rabbit and Metropolitan. A list of about 12 cocktails, half of which will be classics permanently on the list with the others rotating seasonally will accompany the beers; and a wine list (with most bottles falling under $40), will have six each of red and white and three sparkling wines from both Old and New World purveyors.
City Tavern is getting close to opening, but does not have a set final date. Those awaiting its arrival shouldn't have to wait much longer as they hope to open the doors toward the end of May.