Chicago culinary power couple Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark, fresh off a Best Chef: Great Lakes win at the Beard Awards in May, welcomed their third child and a new restaurant this summer that had loyal locals salivating with anticipation. The pair opened casual, prix-fixe neighborhood restaurant Wherewithall in July offering contemporary American seasonal dishes that are subject to change at the whims of the weather, farmers, and chefs. It’s the couple’s second restaurant, a follow-up to Michelin-starred Korean-American hit Parachute. How are diners responding to Clark and Kim’s new restaurant? Here are some early reactions:
Most online commenters were delighted by Wherewithall’s bar snacks and coursed-out dinner. On OpenTable, happy diner ChicagoLady waxed poetic: “My prix fix dinner was possibly the best $65 I’ve ever spent, from the delightfully whimsical starters (perfect crudités with an emulsified cows milk cheese, to-die-for beignets, and an amazing iced kimchi-like clear broth), to the velvety ocean trout, and the absolutely perfect filet.”
“Love the idea of not having to choose what I’m going to eat, especially in a restaurant where everything will be delicious,” one Google reviewer wrote. Others praised the prix-fixe format and pricing, and expressed appreciation for the kitchen’s willingness to accommodate dietary restrictions. The seasonal cold kimchi broth garnered special attention: most loved the “delicious” concoction, but some found it “strange.”
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A couple years ago we dined at @chefbeverlykim & @johnnycooks then newly Michelin star awarded restaurant @parachutechicago and had a great experience. Fast forward 2 years and we’re in Chicago again to hear that the now James Beard awarded best chefs have just opened their 2nd restaurant earlier this month, so we had to try it! What’s more is that after finally finding a new location, the couple had to make a choice between buying a new house for their growing family of 5 or opening their 2nd establishment. Anyone in or close to the food industry knows that the most successful chefs have a certain psychopathic flair that makes them so good at what they do... So of course they went with the latter. My assessment? Thus far the risk has been well worth it, because this restaurant was damn good. First photo: Kimchi water with cucamelon and raspberries. Never had kimchi this way but now I really want to learn how to make it... So refreshing. ... -Summer bean salad in a mushroom broth with chanterelles and cured egg yolk. Chanterelle season is the best season! (The butter beans were a tad undercooked but not enough to make the dish unpleasant). ... -yellowfin tuna with dehydrated and preserved tomatoes (the tomatoes were spectacular) & summer squash in basil oil. ... -Squab (domestically raised pigeon) with baby corn and a sweet cream. The squab was perfectly cooked. ... -Palette cleanser; peach sorbet and sorghum. ... -Sweet woodruff semifreddo with gooseberries, almonds and black currants. (Wished there were a few more almonds instead of the mint, the flavor and crunch tasted really good with the sweet and oh so creamy custard) ✨ . . . . . . #wherewithall #chicagoeats #f52gram #zagatchicago #michelin #feedfeed #squab #eatchicago #jamesbeard #huffposttaste #huffpostfood #yellowfintuna #kimchi #prixfixe #f52grams #foodies #chicagofoodie #eatseasonal #buzzfeedfood #instagood #instafood
Many compared the food and experience to that of Parachute, positively and otherwise. Yelper Jon M. stated his love of the couple’s first restaurant, but was not impressed by the menu at Wherewithall. OpenTable reviewer JenniferB explained her two-star rating by saying that the food was fine but not notable. “I have visited Parachute so I guess my expectation was higher than what I actually experienced,” she wrote. A few found the food too cerebral: “Everything tasted like there was great thought put into each dish but the execution was poor,” wrote Yelper Patrick B.
In keeping with food and menu commentary, many customers were impressed by their servers, repeatedly described as “knowledgable,” “warm,” and “helpful,” and overcame small missteps. On Twitter, a diner described the staff as “wonderfully attentive, without being intrusive.”
A few reviewers wanted more detailed dish descriptions than the ones they got, and for some, the flurry of servers made the atmosphere seem chaotic. “Server missed a wine pairing, courses were not really explained,” a diner wrote on OpenTable, but reported a positive experience overall.
Tried a fabulous Prix Fixe restaurant in Avondale last night for my early birthday date night. It was fabulous. The staff is wonderfully attentive, without being intrusive. Checkout Wherewithall if you’re in… https://t.co/yqV80pXlv6— Amy C. Lossie, PhD (@Ilovepigenetics) August 14, 2019
Wherewithall’s cozy bar space and dining room seems a nearly universal hit. Many appreciated the use of salvaged red pine and industrial felt to give the space a range of textures. “I love it when new joints let beautiful old buildings be beautiful old buildings,” a poster wrote on Instagram below a photo of an intimate corner of the bar area. Others described the restaurant, which previously housed an auto repair shop, as “quirky” and “fun.” It also includes the building’s original pressed-tin ceiling.
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I love it when new joints let beautiful old buildings be beautiful old buildings - really diggin’ the vibes over here @wherewithall_chi ~ . . . . #interiors #interiordesign #interiorphotography #apartmenttherapy #interiorinspo #interiorwarrior #createexplore #createcommune #designinspo #travelphotography #mytinyatlas #eaterchicago #restaurantsdecor #designrestaurants #bardesign #restaurantdesign #hospitalitydesign
Though there’s room for service tweaks and menu expansion, Wherewithall seems off to a strong start. It’s a display of range and creativity from Kim and Clark that new customers and Parachute fans seem to enjoy, and the ever-changing menu is geared to keep diners guessing with each visit.