The Force has always been with Joe Frillman. But the chef, who opens 52-seat Daisies tonight in Logan Square, wasn’t always ready to wield his pasta-making abilities. Daisies’ investor Scott Goldstein has known Frillman for 15 years and said a trip his chef took to Italy with mentor Chris Pandel (Balena) helped harness his skills. “When he came back from Italy he went from Padawan to Jedi,” Goldstein said.
Frillman, who cooked at Balena and The Bristol, is treating the Midwest like a region of Italy at his first restaurant. The six pastas on the menu make good use of the bounty from his brother’s farm, located about a 50-minute drive north of Chicago. Even though America is young compared to European countries, Frillman wants to draw upon the Midwest’s culinary roots. For example, there’s a fried mushroom and cheese curd dish that will make any Wisconsinite feel at home. There’s also a spring onion dip with house-made potato chips. Frillman has become a master of textures and flavors, like Pandel before him, according to Goldstein.
“He could have gone to a big restaurant group, but he wanted this thing where he could feel a connection with the food,” Goldstein said. “The connection with the food is only heightened that it’s grown by the same family.”
Though meat is used primarily just for flavor or relish, Frillman said he’s still toying around with the menu. He might just offer two proteins as rotating specials. Right now there’s a sturgeon and a cornflake chicken that’s become a favorite with Goldstein’s wife, Ella. Daisies is a celebration of farm vegetables, “but we’re not against enjoying meat,” Frillman said.
Frillman knows folks may be skeptical of farm to table restaurants. He’s dined at restaurants with menus stating that the produce was from Frillman Farms, “and I know for a fact we haven’t been making deliveries there for two years.” But folks won’t have to worry about that at Daisies — family has privileges.
Drinks will also benefit from the farm. Cocktails include a beet old fashioned—it’s more for the color than the sweetness. The full beverage program isn’t quite yet available. The state and city’s liquor laws aren’t very modern, and there are still restrictions that prevent infusions and some of the creative stuff that Frillman wants to offer. Until he receives the green light from the city, the restaurant won’t be able to fulfill Frillman’s full vision for Daisies’ drink list.
He’s still working on a back patio too, which will remind guests of the prior restaurant, Analogue. The art on the walls will rotate seasonally. Carrie Frillman, the chef’s sister, is the first artist featured. She’s painted watercolors of carrots and other vegetables in keeping with the theme.
Frillman is bringing a unique restaurant to Logan Square. Check out this homage to the Midwest starting tonight. See the opening menu, subject to change, below.
Daisies, 2523 N. Milwaukee Ave., (773) 661-1671, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday. Lunch and brunch service are upcoming.