Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Delicious New Dishes for a New Decade


Out with the old, in with the new . . . dishes?!

With a New Year and new decade comes a whole spate of new restos and favorite standbys updating their menus:

Branch 27: New chef John Manion has done a complete overhaul of the menu at this laid-back West Town neighborhood hang. A cassoulet of lamb meatballs, braised pork belly and duck confit should pair nicely with a beer from the impressive list that includes Three Floyds Alpha King and Goose Island Matilda.

HEARTY: Partners Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh—also known as The Hearty Boys—reignited their visibility in Lakeview by transforming their private events space into a full-fledged restaurant. They add a twist to standard comfort fare like a deconstructed tuna casserole with seared panko-crusted Ahi, egg noodles in a light saffron cream, sautéed wild mushrooms, sweet pea puree and crushed dried sweet peas.

HUB 51: There's a rotating menu during the new brunch service at the happening River North eatery. They've just introduced Eggs Benedict served over hash browns with a choice of Black Forest ham or thick-cut brown sugar bacon.

Longman & Eagle: Chef Jared Wentworth and owner Bruce Finkelman (The Empty Bottle) promise more comfort than anyone with this new bar/restaurant/inn hybrid. In addition to homey, savory dishes like the wild boar sloppy Joe (with crispy sage, onions and pickled jalapeño), the venue serves as a refuge for those who need to sleep off a hangover. It's set to open in late January.

The Purple Pig: Jimmy Bannos Jr.'s no newcomer to the dining scene with stints working for Mario Batali as well as he's son of Jimmy Bannos Sr. of Heaven on Seven fame. He's partnered with Scott Harris (Francesca) for this gastropub serving up the intriguing chicken thigh kebabs with fried smashed potatoes and tzatziki.

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