Pacific Standard Time has cemented itself as a success story in River North, reviving a long-dormant downtown restaurant space. The first restaurant from Underscore Hospitality, formed by a cabal of ex-One Off Hospitality Group employees (Publican, Blackbird, Big Star), has earned Chicago a spot on Eater National’s Best New Restaurants of 2018. Underscore co-founder and chef Erling Wu-Bower’s departure from Nico Osteria has been worth it as he’s made California-inspired cuisine cool in Chicago.
Underscore has created a breezy and roomy dining space that provides customers a West Coast escape in the middle of the Midwest’s largest city. Eater National critic Bill Addison praised Wu-Bower’s diverse approach in adding PST to his list: “[T]his is the Golden State of Wu-Bower’s own mind, informed by a freethinking multiculturalism rather than an adherence to any one cuisine.”
Addison was left impressed by “handsomely charred mushroom pizza” and the Middle Eastern-inspired, large-format duck course. He also lauded pastry chef Natalie Suben and singled out both her huckleberry sundae and chocolate tart with peanut dukkah.
Before opening, former-PST co-chef Cosmo Goss, the California native who helped develop the restaurant’s concept, controversially left the restaurant and the company. PST’s staff absorbed the departure with Wu-Bower shouldering the load. The South Bend, Indiana native has used his Midwestern roots and delivered one of the best new restaurants in America. And customers shouldn’t blink. On any given night, Wu-Bower’s ex-bosses from One Off, including Donnie Madia, can be found helping out in the dining room. One Off has partnered with Underscore on Pacific Standard Time, giving the young company assistance as they usher in a new era of hospitality in Chicago.
Last year, Elske in the West Loop was the sole Chicago representative on the list. Monteverde in the West Loop made made the list in 2016 after Dove’s Luncheonette in Wicker Park made the list in 2015. Read the entire list 18-restaurant list on Eater National.