Bronzeville Winery, the highly anticipated restaurant on Chicago’s historic South Side, just opened with a modernist vegan watermelon steak and marshmallow-topped roasted yam cocktail.
“We’ve put together a multi-sensory dining experience that celebrates local artists,” said Cecilia Cuff, co-owner with Eric Williams of The Silver Room.
The Silver Room is a retail store and event space, hosting art previews and listening parties, perhaps best known for its annual summer block party.
“For me, a big part of that was creating something more than wine and food,” Williams said. “It’s also a gathering place for neighbors to celebrate community.”
Chef Whitney McMorris, formerly of The Aviary and Terzo Piano, prepares modern American cuisine with global influences.
“One of our hits so far has been this vegan watermelon steak that mimics a tuna steak,” Williams said.
It sports a tuft of fried watermelon rind, vegan feta, hazelnuts, pickled serrano chiles and romesco sauce, Cuff said.
“Our menu ended up being about 60% vegan,” she added. “I think people who eat meat are really surprised and delighted every time.”
Much of their produce comes from Herban Produce, an urban farm on the west side of town.
The McMorris menu also features artfully prepared fish and meat.
“She does a very nice Ora King Salmon with a sweet onion sobise,” Cuff said. There’s also bourbon barrel-smoked trout roe, royal trumpet mushrooms, and yuzu mousse.
McMorris also decided to have one of the best burgers in Chicago, with Wagyu beef and smoked Comte cheese.
“It was a challenge she felt,” Cuff said. “But more importantly, she also made sure there was a standalone vegan burger.”
Both burgers are served on milk bread buns from Aya Pastry, with black truffle aioli. The vegan burger is available with gluten-free and plant-based options.
“Our most popular drink was Uncle Yams, a cocktail made with Uncle Nearest whiskey,” Cuff said.
The Uncle Nearest brand is named after Nathan “Uncle Nearest” Green, the former slave who, according to legend, taught Jack Daniel how to make whisky.
“We also have a wonderful mixologist and bar manager, Ian Julian,” she added.
Julian worked at the James Beard-named Fritai restaurant in New Orleans.
“And then obviously the wine, we sell quite a bit of wine,” Cuff said. “We have a wine program created by Derrick C. Westbrook, who is an African-American sommelier.”
Westbrook made Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 40 under 40 list in 2018, and is also one of the driving forces behind the popular wine shop-bar hybrid Juice @ 1340 in the West Loop.
“I actually moved to Bronzeville when I moved my store from the north side to the south side,” Williams said. “And I realized there were tons of people in the community who had been living here for 10, 15, 20 years. They were looking forward to this transformation you heard about, the new Bronzeville, reminiscent of what it was in the jazz era until the 1950s.
Bronzeville Winery opened on April 20 in a new development focused on supporting local businesses.
“When we figured out who was going to make the chairs and the tables, and who was going to do some of the design, we really wanted to be able to use our buying power to create more business and more opportunities and also a platform. shape for other makers in our community,” Cuff said. “We understand the responsibility we have as black business owners.”
They can seat around 100 people inside and weather permitting, a patio will be wrapped in an edible garden by Herban Produce.
One must reserve.
“We’ve had clients who are so happy they just cried,” Williams said. “They say, ‘We’ve lived here for 20 years and now we can just walk home after dinner. We never thought this would happen in our community. ”
4420 S. Cottage Grove Ave, 872-244-7065, bronzevillewinery.com
A Hainanese chicken rice stand has opened at Chinatown’s basement food court in the building formerly known as the Richland Center. The new 3 Sauces Hainam Chicken Rice debuted on April 20. The menu includes its namesake poached chicken dish and an unusual panko-crusted version, as well as fried Nutella dumplings.
2002 S. Wentworth Ave, 312-809-2528, 3sauces.com
Heritage Bikes & Coffee owner Mike Salvatore has created another new concept. Bunker, ostensibly a neighborhood bar in a sprawling, dog-friendly courtyard patio, opened April 27 on the Near West Side, a few blocks from the United Center. Chef and friend Rick Ortiz of Antique Taco crafted the concise Mexican-inspired menu with a baked mushroom or chorizo queso, a poblano pambazo burrito and, yes, an espresso martini.
1515 W. Monroe St., 773-823-5818, bunkerchicago.com
A ramen house with nearly 130 locations worldwide has its Chicago-area premiere. Kyuramen opened on April 8 in Oak Park and has been busy ever since. They offer nine bowls, including their best-selling Tokyo tonkotsu shoyu, Korean kimchi, and vegetarian vegetable ramen.
118 N. Marion St., Oak Park; 708-255-8888; kyuramen.com
The second generation owners of Le Bouchon have added a modern French restaurant to the family collection. Obélix just opened on May 5 in River North. Chef Oliver Poilevey clearly loves his foie gras, offering a classic torchon gras, as well as a mousse-filled macaron, and even a foie-co, a seared duck foie gras taco with a blue corn tortilla.
700 N. Sedgwick Street, 312-877-5348, obelixchicago.com
Chicago’s iconic ice cream cone is heading even further north. The Original Rainbow Cone opened Wednesday in Skokie. They layer the classic slices of chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (i.e. vanilla with cherries and nuts), pistachio and orange sherbet on a cone or mug if you must. But you’ll still have to head to the original pink palace in the Beverly neighborhood for rainbow ice cream cakes.
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3754 W. Touhy Ave., Skokie (at Buona); 224-747-2333; rainbowcone.com
Lexington Betty Smoke House Pullmanchef and owner of Dominique Leach’s former south side outpost barbecue stand, took over the entire One Eleven Food Hall space and reopened on April 30. 756 E. 111th St., 773-309-8240, lexingtonbettysmokehouse.com
Marisol, the restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art linked to consultant chef Jason Hammel of Lula Cafe, closed for two years during the pandemic. It reopened on May 3 on the Gold Coast. 205 E. Pearson St. (at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago), 312-799-3599, marisolchicago.com
Sip and savorowned by Trez Pugh, a pioneer of South Side cafes, celebrated the grand reopening of the 47th Street boutique at the historic Rosenwald Courts apartments in Bronzeville on May 7. 78 E. 47th St., 773-633-2722, sipandsavorchicago.com
Do you know a restaurant in the Chicago area that is new and remarkable? Email food critic Louisa Chu at [email protected].
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