One of Chicago’s most anticipated openings of the year, Pacific Standard Time, opens tonight in River North from the former chef of Nico Osteria, the critically acclaimed Gold Coast seafood spot. Executive chef/co-owner Erling Wu-Bower and partner Joshua Tilden aren’t focusing on fish, though customers will see crudo, swordfish, and more on the restaurant’s opening menu — a mix of Italian, Mediterranean, and more. PST’s mission is to bring California-style dining vibes to the Midwest.
Wu-Bower, a South Bend, Indiana native and Notre Dame grad, described the menu of unique pizzas (there’s a ham & ramp pie, just in time for spring), pastas, and mains as reminiscent of food he grew up cooking with his mother, food writer and chef Olivia “Liv” Wu. They’ll take advantage of relationships forged with West Coast vendors. It’s a bright and breezy modern space good for a weekday or celebratory meal.
Unique dishes from the menu include ricotta dumplings, “Harry’s Berries Strawberries” (yogurt, snap pea, sumac, hazelnut, 1979 bread), and a whole-roasted duck. Media materials describe the menu as a West Coast convergence of cuisines. That diversity comes, in part, from Wu who is Chinese. Her influence on her son can be seen through dishes like pork and shrimp dumplings. There’s plenty of vegetarian options coming from the two hearths which dominate the space. There’s also a chef’s counter among the 160 seats and a 62-seat private dining room. For the opening, they’re just serving dinner; they will add lunch and brunch later this year.
The drink list features seven signature cocktails, and the wines cover American and European coastal regions. True to its name, drinkers will find plenty from California, Oregon, and Washington. Beer fans who want more than just local brews should take a gander at PST’s offerings. There’s a focus on West Coast brewers like Anchor Brewing and Ballast Point. There’s three draft beers plus an assortment of bottles on the menu.
Wu-Bower and Tilden, two vets from One Off Hospitality, scooped up the spot at LaSalle and Erie for their first project for their Underscore Hospitality label, a company that once included Cosmo Goss. One Off — the company behind Big Star, Blackbird, and Publican — is also a co-operator and investor at PST. One Off co-founder Paul Kahan has long compared the restaurant business to music. Underscore may be akin to an indy label, pumping new ideas into Chicago’s dining scene.
Read through the menu and drink list below. Pacific Standard Time opens tonight.
Pacific Standard Time, 141 W. Erie Street, open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m on Friday on Saturday. Reservations available via Resy. Parties of eight or more can email firstname.lastname@example.org.