Chicago's Hot New Restaurants - May 2010

deca Restaurant + Bar
Fruits de Mer at deca
(deca's Fruits de Mer/Photo courtesy of the Four Seasons)

This stunning photo features one of the signature starters at the Ritz Carlton's new restaurant, deca. At $20 per person (or $32 with half lobster), the seafood and shellfish tower includes poached shrimp, oysters, crab legs, scallop ceviche, manila clams, steamed mussels and periwinkles with a trio of sauces. The rest of the menu is equally refined, with chicken liver and foie gras mousse and frisee salad with lardons as hors d'oeuvres, and pan-seared seabass, flame-grilled marinated quail and a wagyu burger punctuating the entree list. Finish off your decadent meal with the 10-layer chocolate cake. Making deca more accessible to those without Ritz-sized wallets, bottles and glasses of wine are half price with dinner Sunday through Thursday until Labor Day.

Cookie Bar

Now that the cupcake craze has died down, it's time for a new dessert to enjoy the spotlight. This Lincoln Park store is putting its money on cookies, serving 18 varieties daily. Options include six kinds of chocolate chip, from traditional to milk chocolate chip and ginger, and other unique offerings like oatmeal chile mango macadamia and orange blossom with cardamom. Good news for those with food allergies, some of the cookies contain no dairy and no gluten. And with flavors changing daily, it may be worth it to call ahead and see if they are serving honey lavendar, key lime or potato chip chocolate chip that day.


When this beer-centric restaurant opened three blocks from my first Chicago apartment, I couldn't wait to return to the old neighborhood and check it out. With only a handful of bars on this stretch of Montrose, Fountainhead will likely continue to be packed long after the newness dies down. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but food that sounded delectable on the menu was less than memorable on the plate. The brie and fruit compote sandwich came out on sliced white bread (the menu called for a baguette) and was much too heavy on the compote, while the jerk coffee sandwich (spicy grilled chicken with grilled pineapple and avocado butter) was neither spicy nor avocado-y. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they were still working out the kinks when we visited, and I hope the food will soon be on par with the beer list that boasts more than two-dozen rotating craft brews on tap.

Vintage 338

The quintessential girls' night out destination, this Lincoln Park wine bar offers a combination of hearty sandwiches and light small plates, all complemented by copious amounts of wine. Focusing on Spain, France and Italy (my three favorite European countries), the wine list includes numerous reds, whites, sparklings and dessert varieties available by the glass or bottle, with many glasses under $10 and most bottles under $35. Inventive Mediterranean-inspired dishes include blood oranges with olive oil and honey relish, proscuitto-wrapped asparagus with sundried tomato pesto, meat and cheese plates, and sandwiches like jamon y queso and pate on a baguette with dijonaise. After another glass of wine, you won't be able to say no to the goat cheese-infused cheesecake or Nutella and banana panini.

E-mail me with tips on new restaurant openings at