Kindling - Chicago
Kindling offers live-fire cooking in Willis Tower, a Chicago landmark (that most locals still refer to as Sears Tower). Manning the flames is Jonathan Sawyer, a James Beard award-winning chef who knows his way around a fire pit.
Though not everything on the Kindling menu is grilled over an open fire, you are missing out if you don't sample what Chef Sawyer can do with a flames. Chances are, of course, you're going to start with the raw bar, and it is an admirable collection of seafood: oysters on the half shell, hamachi crudo, and line caught tuna tartare. Even on the "raw" menu, Sawyer's love of live fire is obvious with his wood-fired oysters, including Motoyaki style (with miso, maple, shoyu and parmesan) and Versailles style with Champagne Hollandaise, Kaluga caviar and fines herbs.
The live-fire deliciousness really kicks off with the entrees, including a few meat items -- like the pastrami-spiced short ribs -- but also with a whole lot of fish, including cedar grilled salmon and barbecue grilled scallops, as well as whole Rushing Waters trout and swordfish. Then things get serious with the meat offerings: a classic bistro steak, sixteen-ounce prime ribeye, USDA prime New York strip and Colorado lamb chops.
The sides, too, are spectacular, with meat-friendly offerings like beef fat glazed Hassleback potatoes, French fries Julia Child style (fried in beef suet, the secret to truly great fries), and a potato torta with a red wine demi glace and shallots.
At Kindling, much comes from the fire but everything, from beautiful steak down to fries, is prepared with Sawyer's fine dining finesse.
As reported in Chicago Eater: "With the arrival of Kindling, the tower’s owners — EQ Office, a division of New York-based Blackstone group — hope to ignite interest and attract more business to Downtown Chicago, an area that continues to recover from the pandemic."