Laurel Khan is still figuring out her menu for opening night at her new Ukrainian Village restaurant. Curious, A Chef’s Playground formally debuts tonight, and Khan still hasn’t scribbled out what exactly diners will have to pick from. That’s because it’s the theme at Curious, where Khan will offer menus that change every few days.
Khan described her food as global comfort food. While many Americans imagine meatloaf and macaroni, those with Pakistani grandmothers imagine curries, or maybe a Pakistani-spiced ox tail like what Khan served at Saturday’s friends and family dinner. The point is comfort food has different meanings all across the globe, and Curious’ menu will represent those different flavors, Khan said. She laughed when asked if she had a menu to share. It’s going to change so often that two visits will rarely be the same.
Khan is a Tru alum who departed for the Pacific Northwest. She opened a restaurant—Mackinaw’s in Chehalis, Wash.— in 2010. Curious is more approachable than Mackinaw’s, but some dishes—like the chicken ravioli—will make their way to Chicago. It’s not supper club fare, as her experience a Tru would suggest. Khan said she enjoys plating, and that her food is a bit “more jazzed up” than regular comfort food would suggest. There’s still burgers and a crab mac and cheese for those who are a bit less...curious. But it will also bring a traveler’s curiosity with dishes like Sudanese lamb shank and Cuban ground pork.
The food supply is different in Chicago compared to the Pacific Northwest, and Khan is readjusting her palette. One thing she’s excited about is starting weekly Sunday night dinners at 2 p.m. The Minnesota native wants her Midwestern roots to shine.
“I love Chicago, the people, the energy—it’s just home for me,” Khan said.
It’s BYO for now, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.
Curious, A Chef’s Playground, 2020 W. Chicago Ave., (773) 360-7534, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.