Claudia, Trevor Teich’s whimsical tribute to the wonder and excitement of childhood and one of the year’s most highly anticipated new restaurants, opens this weekend in Bucktown. The highlight of the restaurant will be the 10- and 15-course tasting menus which Teich has developing since Claudia first began as a pop-up in 2015, featuring dishes that combine his training in French and Japanese cuisine with his memories of growing up on the North Shore. But for those who lack the time or the funds for the full dinner, the downstairs bar will serve up appetizers, cocktails, and wine by the glass; diners in the lounge area can order some of the tasting menu items a la carte.
“We’re happy to embrace the neighborhood by offering a bar experience,” Teich says. The most recent pop-up run was BYOB in West Loop; Teich was just about to get his liquor license before he had to close for the pandemic.
While the tasting menu ($225 per person, $265 for the chef’s table) includes many of the imaginative dishes that earned Claudia its reputation as one of the most interesting fine-dining options in the city — including Snails in the Woods, tempura escargot surrounded by edible flowers and moss and “soil” made from dehydrated mushrooms and pumpernickel bread — the bar menu is French classics that Teich learned during his stint in NoMad in Las Vegas, where he worked to raise the funds to open Claudia: pâté en croûte, oysters on the half shell, and lobster pot pie for two.
The cocktails were developed by Stevan Miller, while the wine cellar is curated by sommelier Jessica Dennis.
The restaurant building was originally built in 1878, and before it was Claudia, it was Stephanie Izard’s first restaurant Scylla, Takashi Yagihashi’s namesake restaurant, and — most recently — the short-lived Stone Flower. And before all that, it was a private residence, something that pleases Teich, who wants his customers to feel at home.
To add to that feeling, he’s displayed some of his favorite childhood books and toys on the shelves beside and above the glassed-in kitchen: The Wizard of Oz, vintage trains and yo-yos, and a half-typewriter in a tribute to Willy Wonka’s study in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The abstract paintings are by Lake Forest artist Susan Bouma. Even those who just drop in for chicken liver mousse baked in brioche and a glass of wine can feel like a kid again.
Claudia’s $225 per person price tag — before wine pairings — ranks it as one of the more expensive restaurants in the city. It’s not as pricey, but in the same tier as Ever ($285), Oriole ($285), Smyth ($265), or Alinea ($275 on the low end). Teich, who finally has a permanent home, will see if Chicago has an appetite for fine dining away from downtown and if he can create a destination-worthy restaurant in Bucktown.