Having already proven themselves the first time around, four chefs look to duplicate their success with encore acts.
Pilsen Lula | 2119 S Halsted St, no phone yet
After gradually transforming a Logan Square coffee shop into a dining destination for eaters who suss out the seasons via the plate, Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds of Lula Café are tackling their second act: Pilsen. A restaurant two years in the making, Pilsen Lula (not its actual name, but the stand-in until the staff settles on a moniker) will have much in common with its older sibling when it opens in November—seasonal ingredients via local farmers, a low-key vibe with no dress code, rotating art exhibits—but it’s also an animal all its own.
“Aside from the fact that it will be dinner-only, the food will, in some ways, be more simple, straightforward and accessible,” Hammel says. “It’s also a reflection of Jason Vincent’s role as chef, less a product of collaboration and more a single-handed artisanal vision.” Chef de cuisine Vincent has spent the last year hopping around stoves on what could be considered the Cal-Mediterranean trail, interning at a roll call of iconic West Coast restaurants such as Chez Panisse, Lucques, AOC, Quince and Zuni Café. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of what he picked up thanks to the completely open kitchen, anchored by a wood-burning rotisserie grill that will turn out whole roasted rabbits, racks of lamb, suckling pig and hanger steaks. Or take a table in the steel-framed garden, designer Kevin Heisner’s contemporary take on Frank Lloyd Wright’s integration of indoor and outdoor spaces. The wood walls blanketed in climbing plants will insulate diners from passing traffic. But in true Lula form, a look at the plate should serve as a reminder that you’re in the Midwest. —Heather Shouse
Check out the other sections in our 2008 Fall Preview: