The Little Beet Table's success in New York comes from finding a niche of those who prefer a clean farm-to-table approach that promotes vegetables over meat. Chef/partner Franklin Becker hopes that success will translate in Chicago when the restaurant opens in the spring at 845 N. State St. in the Gold Coast. The menu's 100-percent gluten free, and the spot is fiercely popular with female diners, as Becker said the demographic is split 70-30, women to men.
"We are not a 'feminine restaurant,'" Becker explained. "I would say we do a lot of charring and roasting and things like that, but at the same time we really attract women because of the healthier form of eating."
The Little Beet Table features a menu of "smart food" such as the salmon with avocado ratatouille, pistachio nuts and black olive oil. That dish uses all five healthy fats, hence Becker's smart label. Is Chicago, a city known for eating red meats and comfort foods, ready for the Little Beet Table?
"Chicago is known for eating very big, very similar to the Boston eater—lots of meats, lots of potatoes, comfortable and filling," Becker said. "That's not really the way we cook. We'll give you a tremendous amount of food, but you're going to eat your vegetables and get your nutrients. When you leave you're going to feel light, not heavy."
Doubters, don't worry. There's still a burger and skirt steak on the menu, as well as flatbreads. If The Little Beet Table enjoys success in Chicago, Becker hopes to roll out a few of his fast-casual lunch concepts, simply called The Little Beet, in the city. They've already begun such expansion in Washington, D.C., after The Little Beet Table opened in Manhattan in November 2014.
Becker, who appeared on season five of "Top Chef Masters," believes Chicago women—and men—that feel trapped at stuffy steakhouses need another, lighter and healthier option. But still, deliciousness is a priority over health: "If it doesn't taste good, it's not on the menu."