After a combined 12 1⁄2 years under Paul Kahan’s wing, David and Anna Posey officially start building their own nest today. The acclaimed husband-and-wife chef duo, formerly of Blackbird, open their first restaurant tonight — the Danish-inspired Elske on Randolph Row. They’re the third notable chef couple to recently open a spot in town, following the highly-acclaimed projects John and Karen Urie Shields’ Smyth and The Loyalist around the corner and Brian and Jennifer Jones Enyart’s Dos Urban Cantina in Logan Square.
"It was tough," David Posey says about leaving the One Off Hospitality cocoon. "They’re so supportive — Paul is definitely my mentor — he showed me everything. But you want to spread your wings and fly."
The Poseys’ Elske takes flight today as a restaurant that Anna describes as "laid-back fine-dining." The Danish inspiration manifests more in the restaurant’s design, service and atmosphere, which includes kitchen staff running food, because the interaction of "people coming out of the kitchen and delivering food that they just prepared...is more special than just a straight service," David Posey says. That food can be experienced either in an eight-course, $80 tasting menu (plus $45 for optional wine pairings), or in a la carte dishes that run $15-22. Desserts are $14 a piece.
The Poseys’ fine-dining roots are present in the food’s creativity and technique, yet the prices are low enough and the atmosphere is chill enough to bring in a range of customers looking for a variety of experiences, hopefully for repeat visits. "I think in our food there’s a level of something that brings you back," Anna Posey says. "Even if it has a creative combination of flavors and technique, it’s all very approachable food."
The tasting menu begins with a tea of hearth-smoked fruits and vegetables, served alongside a seasonal salad made from the same ingredients, that’s inspired by a restaurant outside Normandy, France. Other savory dishes include David Posey staples duck liver tart and a celeriac risotto with hazelnuts and black truffle. Anna Posey’s favorite is a slow-roasted beef brisket with creamed Brussels sprouts and broccolis. Her desserts include a vanilla ice cream she pipes and stabilizes with marshmallow before adding cocoa, citrus crumbles, and olive. She also highlights the tasting menu’s pre-dessert course, a boiled, sugared, frozen, and dehydrated fennel bite with mint.
Kyle Davidson, another longtime Blackbird vet, handles the general manager duties as well as the beverage program, which features a tight list of four cocktails and a European bottle and glass wine list that David Posey says will eventually grow to around 60 bottles. The small bar also holds four taps, three for beer and one for cider. Read through all of the menus below.
Around 18 months since signing their lease, the Poseys unveil their first restaurant tonight, a bi-level space in a former nightclub on Restaurant Row that’s now full of Danish mom-and-pop personality and just may be the highest-anticipated opening for the rest of 2016. Take a look around the space and read about its design here and reservations are available here.
Elske, 1350 W. Randolph St., (312) 733-1314, open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 6:00 until 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 until 11:00 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.