Is Chicago’s restaurant future about vegetables? If so, Wicker Parkers get a head start tonight when Clever Rabbit opens just west of Division and Damen. The new restaurant isn’t 100-percent vegetarian; ownership prefers the term “veggie focused.” That gives room for some carnivorous courses including plenty of fish, chicken, and a griddled double cheeseburger.
Still, for anyone wanting to reduce their meat consumption, Clever Rabbit promises to be a good bet with creative vegetarian items from chef Matt Lair (Bom Bolla). Lair is steering away from butter and cream, the salads are prepared with unique ingredients (a kale salad comes with a six-year balsamic dressing), and dishes including carrot dumplings and a cauliflower dish (bay leaf, pickled spring veggies, cauliflower puree) will allow the garden ingredients to sing by themselves, mostly.
Clever Rabbit is from Nick Pagor, Brad Serot, and Chris Haisma. Haisma and his team own Sparrow in Gold Coast and The Betty on Fulton Market—two establishments known for creative cocktails. That means guests should expect high-quality drinks at Clever Rabbit. The carrot margarita won’t improve anyone’s eyesights, but it may alter perceptions with Piedra Azul Reposado tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, carrot, agave, lime, lime sea salt, and sage, for example.
There are six signature drinks in all, two mocktails, and a beer list that features Firestone Walker, Surly, 4 Hands, and an assortment of local crafts. The menu also includes a handful of wines by the glass and an extensive bottle list.
The West Coast is credited with popularizing the kind of haute veggie cuisine that Clever Rabbit will dish out, and Haisma himself is a California native. Will the approach be successful in Wicker Park? Read the menus below and find out tonight when Clever Rabbit opens.
Clever Rabbit, 2015 W. Division St., (773) 697-8711, open 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday; 3:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.