MBCH March 2015 : Page 94

FOOD & DRINK TRENDS Boning Up Go big with meat meant for sharing. | By Anthony Todd | Small plates are so 2013. The trend right now is huge pieces of perfectly cooked beef meant for sharing. Fit for a king (or a royal family), the meat’s presence in the middle of the table, on a giant board, surrounded by sharp knives for all, guarantees a memorable evening. “If you’re ordering a 2-pound rib-eye, you’re not going to eat it yourself,” says Oak + Char chef Joseph Heppe. “Those are the dining experiences you really remember.” Here are four places offering a night of decadent carnivory. 3. Oak + Char: Chef’s Board, market price The modern Midwestern cuisine at this new River North spot (in the former Graham Elliot space) has caught the 4. River Roast: The Roast Beef, $32 for 8 ounces As the name implies, River Roast is all about big pieces of meat. It offers a whole roast chicken, a whole rack of pork and a fire-roasted fish, all for sharing. But we think the most impressive dish is the roast beef from Riley Brothers Farm in Wisconsin. It’s slow-roasted overnight and then seasoned with pink peppercorns, rosemary and lemon zest. The whole thing is wheeled out to the table on a cart and served with its addictive crispy potatoes. 315 N. LaSalle St., 312.822.0100, riverroastchicago. com 94 | | Spring 2015 RIVER ROAST PHOTO COURTESY OF GALDONES PHOTOGRAPHY; NICO OSTERIA PHOTO BY CHLOE LIST A MEATY STORY From top: The roast beef at River Roast is slow-roasted overnight; the dry-aged rib-eye at Nico Osteria can be ordered by the pound (for up to 3 pounds). 1. Balena: Bistecca, $99 This 36-ounce porterhouse is a tall order for two guests and would be enough dinner for four. It starts with prime beef from Allen Brothers seasoned with “nothing more than salt and pepper,” says Chef de Cuisine Joe Frillman, which is then seared over a wood-and-charcoal flame. “The smoke and char from the grill almost become an ingredient in their own right.” The finished product is served with a charred lemon, a whole head of roasted garlic and some pungent peppery olive oil. 1633 N. Halsted St., 312.867.3888, balenachicago. com 2. Nico Osteria: Dry-Aged Rib-Eye, $45 per pound Nico’s menu is full of delicate Italian dishes, but if you’re looking for something more robust, go for its dry-aged rib-eye. The beef comes from Straus Co-op and is aged in-house for 40 to 60 days. The whole steak can be as large as 3 pounds—guests can specify how much they want to indulge—and it’s brought to the table cut but still bone-in. This decadent wonder is served with Calabrian chile butter and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. 1015 N. Rush St., 312.994.7100, nicoosteria. com attention of plenty of savvy Chicago diners. For us, the standout dish is a huge 32-ounce bone-in rib-eye. “We wanted to have a steak available, but something you could share,” says Heppe. “This is real chef food.” The hunk comes on a huge board complete with marrow bones and a sauce Périgueux rich with truffle funkiness. 217 W. Huron St., 312.643.2427, oakandchar. com

Food & Drink Trends

Anthony Todd

Meat good More meat better Bring your friends (and your appetite) and sample these shareable cuts

Boning Up

Go big with meat meant for sharing.

Small plates are so 2013. The trend right now is huge pieces of perfectly cooked beef meant for sharing. Fit for a king (or a royal family), the meat’s presence in the middle of the table, on a giant board, surrounded by sharp knives for all, guarantees a memorable evening. “If you’re ordering a 2-pound rib-eye, you’re not going to eat it yourself,” says Oak + Char chef Joseph Heppe. “Those are the dining experiences you really remember.” Here are four places offering a night of decadent carnivory.

1. Balena: Bistecca, $99

This 36-ounce porterhouse is a tall order for two guests and would be enough dinner for four. It starts with prime beef from Allen Brothers seasoned with “nothing more than salt and pepper,” says Chef de Cuisine Joe Frillman, which is then seared over a wood-and-charcoal flame. “The smoke and char from the grill almost become an ingredient in their own right.” The finished product is served with a charred lemon, a whole head of roasted garlic and some pungent peppery olive oil. 1633 N. Halsted St., 312. 867.3888, balenachicago. Com

2. Nico Osteria: Dry-Aged Rib-Eye, $45 per pound

Nico’s menu is full of delicate Italian dishes, but if you’re looking for something more robust, go for its dryaged rib-eye. The beef comes from Straus Co-op and is aged in-house for 40 to 60 days. The whole steak can be as large as 3 pounds—guests can specify how much they want to indulge—and it’s brought to the table cut but still bonein. This decadent wonder is served with Calabrian chile butter and hen-of-thewoods mushrooms. 1015 N. Rush St., 312. 994.7100, nicoosteria. Com

3. Oak + Char: Chef’s Board, market price

The modern Midwestern cuisine at this new River North spot (in the former Graham Elliot space) has caught the attention of plenty of savvy Chicago diners. For us, the standout dish is a huge 32-ounce bone-in rib-eye. “We wanted to have a steak available, but something you could share,” says Heppe. “This is real chef food.” The hunk comes on a huge board complete with marrow bones and a sauce Périgueux rich with truffle funkiness. 217 W. Huron St., 312. 643.2427, oakandchar. Com

4. River Roast: The Roast Beef, $32 for 8 ounces

As the name implies, River Roast is all about big pieces of meat. It offers a whole roast chicken, a whole rack of pork and a fire-roasted fish, all for sharing. But we think the most impressive dish is the roast beef from Riley Brothers Farm in Wisconsin. It’s slow-roasted overnight and then seasoned with pink peppercorns, rosemary and lemon zest. The whole thing is wheeled out to the table on a cart and served with its addictive crispy potatoes. 315 N. LaSalle St., 312.822.0100, riverroastchicago. Com

Top restaurants make good use of spare space with sleek, sexy lounges

Lounge Acts

After dinner (or before!) At your favorite hot spot, look no further than the next flight of stairs for the city’s best lounges.

Not every restaurateur can take a dreary basement or unused secondfloor space and transform it into a lounge worth lining up for. But that’s exactly what happened in these six swank spots. From an authentic tiki bar to a VIP speak-easy, we have your nightlife covered. Get up, or get down—it’s your call.

Three Dots and a Dash

Although its alley entrance might lead you to think otherwise, this River North tiki bar is truly a tropical paradise. From its authentic decor—tiki totems from Trader Vic’s, thatched-roof bamboo bar, jewel-toned lanterns—and expertly crafted cocktails accessorized with exotic flowers and kitschy swizzle sticks, Three Dots, located beneath barbecue hot spot Bub City (and from the same owners, siblings R.J., Jerrod and Molly Melman of LEYE), has the island spirit down pat. Order the Treasure Chest No. 2 ($385), a dry icefilled chest containing an aged Jamaican rum fruit-spiked punch for you and six of your friends, along with a bottle of Dom Pérignon on the side. 435 N. Clark St., 312.610.4220, threedotschicago.com

Momotaro

At this multistoried Japanese restaurant, with a supercool design courtesy of NYC-based AvroKO, it’s hard to know where to look first. The basement lounge isn’t a bad start. While the main dining room veers midcentury modern office, the lower-level izakaya takes inspiration from the post-World War II work-obsessed Japanese salaryman, spending his afterwork hours wandering through alleyways and food-vendor stalls. A smattering of vintage Japanese objects and signage enhance the feel (check out the antique phone in the back), and a beautiful four-sided bar holds the center of the room, flanked by banquette seating and high-top tables. Up front, a modern tatami room features tan leather couches and low stools. Japanese-inspired cocktails and snacks are offered, as well as rare Japanese whiskies, including Yamazaki 25-year-old ($225 for a 2-ounce pour). Go ahead, you deserve it. 820 W. Lake St., 312. 733.4818, momotarochicago.com

Charcoal Bar

With its dark, sexy ambience, this below-ground 12-seat lounge looks like it has nothing in common with its upstairs neighbor, the serene, light-filled Sumi Robata Bar. A closer inspection, however, reveals that, like its big sister, Charcoal Bar is a sucker for details. Order the Old Fashioned ($20)—made with premium Japanese whiskey, of course—and watch as the bartender uses a Japanese handcrafted saw and small knife to create the clear, tennis ball-size ice orb that keeps your cocktail well chilled and undiluted. Appearances, it seems, can be deceiving. 702 N. Wells St., 312. 988.7864, sumirobatabar.com

Bordel

Creating a lounge that channels the boho esprit of a Left Bank cabaret with the mysterious aura of a Prohibition speakeasy is no easy task. But that’s exactly what restaurateur Daniel Alonso, who also owns the Black Bull tapas restaurant downstairs, has done with Bordel. Step beyond its unmarked door and up the red staircase, and you’ll find plush velvet couches, romantic lighting and risqué custom wallpaper (no, really). If those don’t get you in the mood, perhaps the made-to-order cocktails—including boozy punches in flowery tea sets ($12, $50) and group cocktails served in porróns, Spanish-style wine pitchers ($40)—will. Live entertainment ranges from jazz music to burlesque to flamenco. It’s a small world after all. 1721 W. Division St., 773. 227.8600, bordelchicago.com

Punch House

With a terrific restaurant above it (Dusek’s) and a stunning concert venue above that (Thalia Hall), you’d maybe think this basement lounge in a 19th century building would get lost in the mix. Not so. Pilsen’s Punch House carries its own weight and then some. A big part of its popularity has to do with its focus on the lost art of punch-making, something partner and founder Will Duncan takes very seriously. “Punch is the precursor to modern cocktails,” he says. Duncan channels his passion and knowledge by creating eight to 10 seasonal punches, which, due to a clever on-tap system, are available by the glass, carafe and bowl. Punch-making classes are routinely offered—“We get to geek out about the history of punch that we love so much,” he says—and groups of four to six wanting something more upscale can opt for the tableside Champagne punch service ($200). 1227 W. 18th St., 312.526.3851, punchhousechicago.com

The Office

With no direct entry and a door that remains locked, it’s not easy getting into this 14-seat bar underneath cutting-edge cocktail lounge The Aviary. (Tip: Send a text or, upon arriving at The Aviary, ask to move downstairs after a round of drinks.) The extra effort is worth it. Formerly an office, go figure, the intimate space’s transformation came about “spontaneously,” says partner Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next), during the build-out process. While The Aviary is sleek and modern, The Office is old-school clubby, with cushy leather couches, Persian rugs and garage-sale art on the walls. Those antique cabinets are more than eye candy; inside, you’ll find an extensive collection of vintage and rare spirits, including Havana Club rum circa the 1930s. “It’s a unicorn of a bottle,” says Micah Melton, beverage director of The Aviary and The Office. Miracles can happen. 955 W. Fulton Market St., 312. 972.7641, theaviary.com

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/Food+%26+Drink+Trends/1934790/246896/article.html.

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