Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chefs Continue 'Downscale' Dining Trend

Spiaggia Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg and her Italian-accented falafel at Falafill. (Photos: jamco)

Last week was a big one for three very prominent chefs who opened some of this season's most highly anticipated restaurants.

Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano's casual Italian eatery Bar Toma opened on the Mag Mile. Takashi Yagihashi of Takashi fame debuted Japanese noodle shop Slurping Turtle in River North. And Bon Appetit's Restaurateur of the Year 2007 Laurent Tourondel swung open the doors to BLT American Brasserie in River North over the weekend.

What the three chefs have in common is a break from their more pricier ventures for more budget-conscious restaurants that most people can afford. Prices range $7-$30 at each spot.

Even Spiaggia's Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg (who's competing on the current season of Top Chef) is getting in on the trend by teaming up with Falafill in Lakeview.

BLT American Brasserie's BLT Sandwich "Deluxe" of Taleggio cheese, Applewood bacon, heirloom tomato, truffle paste and pickled jalapenos. Photo via Freddy Love.

Grueneberg's created an Italian-influenced falafel for the restaurant and all of the proceeds will go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository—which is in desperate need of assistance.

She's using Falafill's own falafel (which is made fresh daily and fried to order) and drawing from Genoa for influence, using a basil pesto as the base with green beans, crispy potatoes, celery and pickled red onion. The promo runs through the end of the month.

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