The Chefs Are Back in Town
You can take the chef out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the chef. And eventually, they come back, much to the delight of hungry Chicagoans. In recent weeks, a handful of renowned chefs have announced their returns to Chicago, following inspiring trips across the globe and tenures at restaurants throughout the U.S.
The first chef to announce his return was Brian Enyart. After spending several years working with acclaimed chef Rick Bayless, most recently as chef de cuisine at Topolobampo, Enyart decamped Chicago for Louisville, where he worked as executive chef at El Camino. He's working with his wife, pastry chef Jennifer Jones, on Dos Urban Cantina in Logan Square, a Mexican-inspired concept that brings the duo back to their roots in more ways than one (Jones previously served as pastry chef at Topolobampo). Aiming to open this fall, the restaurant will take the place of Katakana Sushi Bar, a stone's throw from Parson's Chicken & Fish and Bang Bang Pie Shop. Located across the street from Osteria Langhe and a few blocks away from the popular new 606 Trail, this stretch of Armitage is looking to be quite the hot corridor for the neighborhood.
In fine dining news, the West Loop will soon lay claim to yet another restaurant titan. On the heels of other fine dining juggernauts in the neighborhood, such as Grace and Next, revered husband-wife duo John Shields and Karen Urie Shields are returning to Chicago to open a bi-level, dual concept restaurant. After launching their careers in Chicago, the Shields' left to open fine dining Town House in Chilhowie, Virginia. They racked up the accolades at Town House before shutting it down to work on a restaurant in D.C. Things didn't pan out as they'd hoped in the nation's capital, so you might say fate drew them back to their culinary roots in the Midwest. And this time, they're going big. The duo signed a lease for a two-story space at Ada and Lake, which will eventually contain two different restaurant concepts. Downstairs will be more neighborhood-oriented and casual, while upstairs will feature fine dining and tasting menus. Look for an opening late fall or winter.
Finally, another new chef to make the return to Chicago is Ryan Poli. A veteran of Perennial (now Perennial Virant) and Mercadito Hospitality concepts Tavernita and Little Market Brasserie, Poli left Chicago to travel the world and work at one of the most famous restaurants on the planet, Noma in Copenhagen. He also spent time in restaurants throughout other time zones, all with the impetus to garner fresh inspiration. Although no new plans have been announced yet, it's nice to have such a talent back in town, and we look forward to seeing what Poli does next.
- Matt Kirouac