Jared Wentworth brings his ‘prehistoric’ cooking to Hyde Park with The Promontory.
“We’re doing some straight-up prehistoric cooking, but putting a modern twist on it,” says chef Jared Wentworth of the cuisine at his new Hyde Park restaurant, The Promontory. Case in point: Upon entering the bright, airy restaurant, the first thing diners see is meat roasting on a giant spit. “With the open flame, the hearth, we’re taking a lot of large, rustic cuts of meat and breaking them down into dishes that are more modern,” explains Wentworth.
Though the food might pay homage to a bygone era, The Promontory is part of a very recent restaurant boom in Hyde Park. Nearby, all of 53rd Street seems to be under construction, with condominiums, grocery stores and new businesses opening constantly. The Promontory joins a group of restaurants (including A10 and Yusho from chef Matthias Merges) that are making their way to this South Side neighborhood, which Wentworth believes is the perfect location. “It’s a great neighborhood,” he says. “[It’s] just begging for more good restaurants.”
Here’s what else to expect at The Promontory:
Chef stats: Wentworth is one of the busiest chefs in town, running the kitchens at Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s Board and Beer and now The Promontory. “My partners like to keep me in cabs all day,” he jokes.
Shared vision: The menu is arranged into novel sections; instead of “small,” “medium” and “large,” The Promontory boasts “cold,” “fast,” “embers” and “historic.” “I’m done with small plates,” says Wentworth. “I wanted a menu where every dish could be shared.”
Must-try dishes: The offerings from the “embers” section are the most visible — a huge open-flame hearth dominates the kitchen. Giant legs of lamb sizzle over the fire, destined for Wentworth’s Navarin of Lamb ($26). The lamb is roasted, then braised over two days before it’s plated with grilled sweetbreads, squash, fava beans and baby turnips. It’s not just meats that get the fiery treatment: Don’t skip the hearth-roasted feta served with warm olives, charred peppers and a baguette ($7).
History in the making: “I’m a history nerd — I really wanted to bring back dishes of yore that fell out of favor,” says Wentworth. That’s the point of the “historic” section of the menu, which includes dishes like sole Veronique ($25) and Kentucky burgoo ($24), the official dish of the Kentucky Derby that started as a sort of communal stew. “Whatever you brought got put into the pot,” says Wentworth. His hearty version combines a stock composed of roasted game bones with roasted pork collar, homemade rabbit sausage, charred corn and haricot vert.
Drink up: The drink menu at The Promontory is laid out in a grid for easy reading, with the style of drink (stirred, shaken or carbonated) across the top and the spirit (bourbon, tequila, rum or gin) along the side. Try the Roots & Malt, which combines spicy, anise-heavy homemade root beer with rye or bourbon ($10). Served in a huge, frosty stein, it’s a delicious (if slightly dangerous) tipple.
Dinner and a show: Like Dusek’s, The Promontory has multiple parts: a restaurant, a concert venue and an event space. The second-floor space, which has a capacity of about 650, can be partitioned into several different sections. Every weekend, it transforms into The Promontory Social Club, with DJs, a full bar and plenty of dancing. Blues and R&B shows are in the works, too.
5311 S. Lake Park, (312) 801-2100; Promontorychicago.com