Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lite Bites: What Your Favorite Chefs & Mixologists Are Up To Around Town This Week

Signature Room Executive Chef Rosalia Barron (Photo: Signature Room)

• It's been a big year for the Signature Room as it continues to celebrate 20 years in business. In mid-October, the restaurant's staff will make a second trip to New York's famed James Beard House when Executive Chef Rosalia Barron cooks a five-course meal paired with all-American wines (The first trip was in 2011 when Trenchermen's Patrick Sheerin was at the helm).

During a sneak preview of the dinner Sunday, we had the opportunity to sample the entire James Beard menu, which allowed Barron to truly show off her skills. Highlights included geoduck clam with Osetra caviar and fresh wasabi-lemon gelee; pan-seared scallops with white truffle whipped potatoes, bacon and Champagne vinaigrette and pink snapper with poached pears and parsnips with sea urchin. Barron also paid homage to her Latin heritage with spicy braised pork empanadas topped with avocado mousse and poblano-sherry sauce.

She's certain to wow them in New York!

Sixteen's fall dish of razor clams, leeks and sorrel (Photo: 312 Dining Diva)

• Speaking of exciting new menus, Thomas Lents debuted his fall offering at Sixteen this week. What's particularly special about The Bountiful Table is that he takes the stuffiness out of fine dining by adding a number of whimsical touches, from handmade menus incorporating elements of fall to table settings such as a "campfire." During a sneak preview of the menu, there were many favorites, but standouts included lamb made three ways (traditional rack of lamb, lamb belly and grilled lamb tongue with shallots) and roasted turbot with braised celery and apples. It was also a communal dining experience, which is not Sixteen's forte. The multi-course tasting menus begin at $110 for Offerings from the Harvest; $150 for The Bountiful Table; and $210 for A Feast for Autumn.

The Gage appoints a new executive chef in Peter Coenen. He's been with the Loop restaurant since 2011—most recently as chef de cuisine— and has overseen the daily kitchen operations and menu development for the restaurant since December. A classically French trained chef, Coenen has added some new menu items to announce his promotion: New England lobster roll with fried onions, grilled lemon and "dirty" kettle chips; pan-roasted halibut with grilled okra, shitake mushrooms, Brussels sprout leaves and chorizo broth; and grilled rack of elk with crispy kale, toasted almond, apple celery emulsion, quince mostarda and elk demi glace.

• Yep. Rick Bayless is heading to Wicker Park. Watch out, Big Star!

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