Refreshes or updates are very much in vogue for Chicago restaurants. This goes beyond adding ramps to the spring menu. These changes are supposedly more dramatic with lots of construction — perhaps a move to a new location — and plenty of patience waiting for the city to approve permits. This is the stuff that young cooks dream of while attending culinary school.
Joe Frillman and his team at Daisies were determined to make their new location, near the intersection of Fullerton and Milwaukee, feel like their original space. The mission was to maintain the warmth without sacrificing too much of the Midwestern modesty that diners love. Frillman’s brother, Tim, runs a farm in Michigan, and that’s become part of the engine for the restaurant, known for fresh pasta and creative comfort food in a laid-back environment.
It took a year and a half to finish construction on the 2300 block of Milwaukee Avenue. The space had a few tenants before the pandemic struck, most diners know the space as the Radler, a German restaurant. Those owners supposedly found a 120-year-old mural underneath scraped-off paint on a wall. That might be more myth than fact, but it does give the space some gravitas.
Rachel Crowl of Chicago-based architecture and design firm FC Studio helped rework the space’s layout with new lighting, finishes, and millwork. With 5,500 square feet, the restaurant is larger than the original without feeling too unfamiliar. There’s a private dining space and a chef’s counter, and they’ll be serving specialty cocktails in the space at the new comfy bar. A “We’re Back Daiquiri” is made with rum and raspberry. And there are creative uses of veggies in a margarita made with fermented mushrooms and a mushroom sour (a non-boozy drink).
Beyond the space, Leigh Omilinsky has brought new energy to Daisies with her desserts. But in addition to pastries, Omilinsky brings operational know-how as a partner with the newly formed restaurant group, having worked at Boka Group’s restaurants like Swift & Son. They’ll reopen the original location later this year with a focus on lunch and space for produce from local farms like Mick Klug, Spence, and Catalpa Grove.
A new menu feature includes an omakase-like $60-per-person option. The kitchen crew will create a coursed-out meal comprised of “dishes we would eat if came to diner here.” The menu also includes nine pasta dishes, including pierogi and mussels served with “the Champagne of beers.” Lamb shank for two and salmon collars are some highlights from the protein section. Desserts include bites that can be assembled into a sweet closing-tasting menu. There are also desserts like cinnamon roll monkey bread and chocolate bumpy cake.
While debuting with dinner — there’s already a lot of buzz from friends and family about a beef tongue appetizer — Daisies will also be open during the day. The team will pour coffee from La Colombe and Omilinsky will put together creative pastries. Folks who shopped Daisies’ Sunday market, one of their pandemic pivots, will know what to expect.
It’s a coincidence, not a strategy, but Daisies is more or less opening a bakery next to Ascend Cannabis Dispensary. Even with an expanded dinner, by stoner stereotypes, it’ll have a built-in audience. Take a walk through the space below.
Daisies, 2375 N. Milwaukee Avenue, open at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, weekend brunch and daytime pastry counter and coffees service to lunch in early April. Reservations via Tock. The original location, 2523 N Milwaukee, to relaunch as a grocer and lunch spot later this year.