BY SELENA FRAGASSI | FOR THE SUN-TIMES
Chicago is not one to be starved for foodie experiences. Not with all the great culinary talent we have in our city, many of whom will be celebrated during Chicago Chef Week, April 19-24. Like Restaurant Week, it provides the opportunity to try new restaurants with special prix fixe tasting menus ($22 for lunch, $44 for dinner). Here are some of the best picks with spots still open!
CHICAGO CHEF WEEK
When: April 19-24
Where: Various restaurants
Tickets: $22 for 3-course lunches; $44 for 4-course dinners
Tanta: South American staples
Executive Chef Jesus Delgado takes diners on a tour of the Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Italian flavors that influence Peruvian cuisine. These menus expand the experience with new dishes like a la plancha with prawns, calamari, octopus, mushrooms and chimichurri potatoes and quinoa polenta with queso fresco, mushrooms and crispy kale.
Dinner only; 118 Grand, (312) 222.9700; tantachicago.com
Siena Tavern: Contemporary Italian feast
“Top Chef” vet Fabio Viviani reinvents traditional home-cooked Italian with modern flair as evidenced on these prix fixe menus that include hamachi crudo with spicy balsamic and truffle honey, a Tuscan kale Caesar salad with rosemary focaccia croutons and an early preview of the new lamb amatriciana rigatoni that will be on a new spring menu.
Lunch and dinner; 51 W. Kinzie, (312) 595.1322; sienatavern.com
GT Fish & Oyster: Creative seafood platter
This favorite River North spot often has the best catch, which continues in Chef Giuseppe Tentori’s Chef’s Week menus. Highlights include your choice of clam chowder or a seared tuna salad, whitefish with oyster mushrooms or a Oyster Po’ “big boy” available only during Chef’s Week. Dessert offers black and tan stout cake or key lime pie.
Lunch and dinner; 531 N. Wells, (312) 929.3501; gtoyster.com
Avec: Midwestern approach to Mediterranean
From the One Off Hospitality group behind Blackbird and The Publican, the digs here might be minimalist but Chef Perry Hendrix’s dishes are anything but; the wood-oven paella with whole shrimp, morcilla sausage and almond aioli is one of his personal favorites while chorizo-stuffed medjool dates and tiramisu with sambuca could be yours.
Dinner only (no reservations accepted); 615 W. Randolph, (312) 377.2002; avecrestaurant.com
Nana: Seasonal, sustainable smorgasbord
Bridgeport’s family-owned, farm-to-table experience is a fresh reminder to get outside the city limits. Chef Jeremy Kiens’ menu includes a rare Teres Major cut from Slagel Family Farms with grilled broccolini and ramp salsa verde (made with ramps he foraged himself). Also included: pan-roasted skate wing and pot au crème for dessert.
Dinner only 3267 S. Halsted; (312) 929.2486; nanaorganic.com
Table, Donkey And Stick: European union of flavors
This Logan Square spot was named for a Grimm’s Fairy Tale and is the city’s telltale spot for great Alpine food. Chef Scott Manley offers a choice of charcuterie including duck liver mousse, pork rillettes and cured goat loin. Other courses give a peek at the restaurant’s braised rabbit, duck meatballs, seared fluke and sweet carrot cake.
Dinner only 2728 W. Armitage; (773) 486.8525; tabledonkeystick.com
The Boarding House: Wine-driven New American club
Former “Check, Please!” host and sommelier Alpana Singh owns this hot spot, but it’s recently nominated James Beard Executive Chef Tanya Baker who steals the spotlight with dishes like the baby beet salad with goat cheese, orange and pistachio, half Amish chicken with Yukon potato hash and mushroom risotto. Finish with a selection of mini desserts.
Dinner only 720 N. Wells; (312) 280.0720; boardinghousechicago.com
River Roast: The ultimate meat marketplace
Spiaggia Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano does things differently at this modern-day carving station where fresh cuts are served tableside. For this week only, dinner will be plated individually with choice or pork, chicken chop or roasted vegetables. The meal starts with Chicago-style Wagyu sashimi on a crostini and ends with Hoosier Mama pie.
Lunch and dinner 315 N. La Salle, (312) 822.0100; riverroastchicago.com
Autre Monde Café: Rediscovered Mediterranean gems
This Berwyn spot has often been called one of the best in the suburbs for good reason. Chefs Dan Pancake and Beth Partridge prepared a “Mediterranean tour” specifically for this week with a French poached leek salad, Italian risotto, Greek grilled lamb chop ragani and Tunisian-style Semolina cake.
Dinner only (not available 4/23); 6727 W. Roosevelt (708) 775.8122; autremondecafe.net
Perennial Virant: Well-preserved American
Paul Virant’s Lincoln Park mecca believes you should “eat what you can, can what you can’t,” and this week’s menu shows off its combo of fresh ingredients and preservation techniques. Start with goat milk ricotta gnudi with ramps and roasted mushrooms, then move on to grilled and chilled scallops with preserved lemon and baby kale and roasted pork loin with pickled turnips.
Dinner only; 1800 N. Lincoln, (312) 981.7070; perennialchicago.com
Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.
Published at 8:00 a.m. on April 15, 2015.