Cooling Off With New Mid-summer Menus

In the heat of summer (or as some misleading news outlets will call it, the "polar vortex" of summer), cravings shift to cooling dishes and drinks that provide solace from the seasonal humidity. No better time for restaurants to freshen things up and cool things off with a bevy of new menu additions. Here's a tasty roundup of vigorous new dishes to dig into right now. 

Unite Urban Grill
(Ice cream sandwich at Unite Urban Grill)

Unite Urban Grill: This neighborhood stalwart in West Town is embracing summer with new dishes such as watermelon salad with arugula, red onion, heirloom tomatoes, feta, and mint; farro with grape tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, olives, and honey balsamic; and marinated shrimp skewers with garlic, herb, lemon, and mango salad. To drink, plunge your mouth into the Hyde Park cocktail with mezcal, house falernum, lemon, and creme de cacao, or go for the Gold Coast with cachaca, aperol, Prosecco, and vanilla peppercorn syrup. Finsih on a cooling sweet note via ice cream sandwiches or lemon layer cake. 

Piccolo Sogno Due: Italian cuisine adopts a fresh, summery accent at Piccolo Sogno Due, where executive chef Tony Priolo is invigorating his seasonal menus with new dishes such as fennel-crusted salmon carpaccio, crispy fontina-filled zucchini flowers, Tuscan kale with squash chips and Parmesan dressing, panzanella, summer squash-adjoined grilled veal, and a lustrous salad brimming with carrots, green beans, tomatoes, white beans, and more. 

Cantina Laredo: If tequila barbecue sauce sounds like the pinnacle of summer to you, make your way to Cantina Laredo to consume their new costillas con fajitas, one of several new menu additions at the mod Mexican eatery. Other new entries include balsamic-splashed mushroom tacos and grilled chicken with mango mole sauce. 

The Drawing Room: Freshness is paramount throughout The Drawing Room's new summer menus, evidenced in both dishes and drinks. Food-wise, get hungry for summer vegetable strudel and elotes with ramp butter. Wash it all down with bold new libations like the Trade Winds with Zaya, North Shore Eldergin, Hayman's Royal Dock, lime, and Peychaud's; and Sasha No. 8 featuring Genepy de Alpes, Lillet Rose, Burlesque bitters, and Rhine Hall oaked apple brandy. 

(Foie gras and tuna dish at Sixteen)

Sixteen: The latest tasting menu at Sixteen, the masterful restaurant famous for completely changing its tasting menus through the seasons, draws inspiration from land and water. The "land-meets-water" degustation gives surf and turf new meaning with enticing creations such as lardo and yellowtail served with tomato and seaweed; beef tartar and caviar served with oyster leaf and curry; foie gras and tuna served with corn, avocado, and mure; spiced lamb and cuttlefish noodles in a pho-style broth; and Wagyu rib-eye with broiled eel. 

Cicchetti: This Venetian-inspired Streeterville restaurant hones in on vegetarian flavors for some of their latest menu additions. Perch yourself on the stunning patio and dig into morel mushroom risotto; corzetti with spring peas, pickled ginger, and ricotta; and Burrata with charred baby carrots. To drink, new patio pitchers are the perfect quaff. Pour yourself a glass of Shandy, Spritz, or Venetian Sunset, the latter of which contains CH gin, aperol, lemon juice, and soda. 

The Gage: Fruits take the stage on The Gage's new summer dessert menu. Featuring the handiwork of pastry chef Mitsu Nozacki, confections include apricot tarts with roasted apricots, almond creme, and creme fraiche ice cream; a corn-blueberry dessert with tarragon-blueberry compote, corn ice cream, gooey butter cake, and crispy corn crepes; and Irish coffee doughnuts emboldened with espresso-peach compote, Jameson glaze, Guinness caramel, and Bailey's ice cream.

- Matt Kirouac