Heather Shouse looks back at the chefs, foods and trends that March was good (and bad) for.
GOOD FOR: Graham Elliot Bowles Finally. GEB nabbed a location for his sandwich shop Grahamwich, slated to open late May. The River North address (615 N State St) could signal a high price point, but we’re more worried about Bowles’s upcoming return to Top Chef Masters creating long lines.
GOOD FOR: Beer lovers When a craft brewer has the balls to name a beer Arrogant Bastard, he better bring it. California’s Stone Brewing has no trouble delivering the goods, but until recently, they literally couldn’t deliver the goods. New distribution means Stone is finally available in Chicago, and those on-the-ball folks over at Lush Wine & Spirits are welcoming Stone to town with a launch party, complete with kegs of Double Dry Hopped IPA and a three year vertical tasting of Old Guardian Barley Wine. Don’t worry if you missed it—the rest of Stone’s lineup looks here to stay.
GOOD FOR: The fat-walleted and iron-deficient The opening of Benny’s Chop House—and the forthcoming Chicago Cut Steakhouse and Mastro’s—means that River North will house almost 30 steakhouses—a conventioneer’s dream.
BAD FOR: Fans of Indian fusion cuisine Radhika Desai earned a following with her Indian-Latin creations at Between Boutique Café & Lounge (as well as her stint on Top Chef). But her appointment to executive chef of River North gastropub English was a head-scratcher. Curry mussels and bangers and mash were English’s staples from its opening, so while we’re sure they’ll get a shot in the arm from Desai, we wish she were doing something more creative.
BAD FOR: TRU’s kitchen staff Now that M Burger has carved out a portion of TRU, average Joes can glimpse the TRU team in action, thanks to a view into the kitchen from M Burger’s entrance. Chef Rick Tramonto’s staff may soon feel a bit like those live betta fish swimming beneath TRU’s tartare presentation.
BAD FOR: 2nd acts Despite amazing gelato and a prime address, BIN 36’s Italian attempt A Mano closed at the beginning of the month. Likewise, March saw the last dinner service for Charlie Trotter’s Vegas sibling, Restaurant Charlie.