Uncharted territory

By / Dining / March 22, 2018

This spring, treat your taste buds to niche cuisines

Forget the old standbys — today’s chefs are exploring lesser-known Euro cuisines like Belgian and coastal Spanish. Here, three new and upcoming restaurants we can’t wait to sink our teeth into.

Hake filet in tomato, cracked olive and jamon sauce | Photo by Galdones Photography

Bar Biscay | 1450 W. Chicago; Barbiscay.com

Opened: February 2018

Restaurateurs and married couple Sari Zernich Worsham and Scott Worsham (mfk. restaurant)took a trip to the area of Spain that borders the Bay of Biscay and instantly fell in love with the food. “We loved the super simple approach of highlighting the best product you could get,” Scott says, “before it’s reconstructed, deconstructed or ‘cheffed’ up.”

Last month, they brought the cuisine to West Town along with partner Joe Campagna and chef Johnny Anderes (Honey’s). With influence from the the north coast of Spain and the west coast of France, the menu features seafood bites like whole giant prawns with paprika-sprinkled avocado and apple balsamic ($16), smoked mackerel with cauliflower and olive remoulade ($10) and a beautiful, large whole fluke (market price). Daily rotating pintxos —  small bar bites common in the region — are served from 3-5 p.m. and pair well with Spanish vermouth or the Basque gin and tonic on tap.

A DIY cortado with local Sparrow espresso and your choice of cream puff ($5) — espresso with a cocoa nib glaze, Luxardo cherry cream or pistachio and orange — round out the meal.

Fisk & Co. | 225 N. Wabash; Fiskandcochicago.com

Opening: April 2018

Mussels appear on menus across the city, but in very few places are they the focus. That will change this spring when Fisk & Co. takes the place of South Water Kitchen, bringing a Belgian brasserie to the Loop.

Chicago dining newcomer Austin Fausett
(Proof, Washington D.C.) helms the kitchen. He spent time at Sea Grill in Brussels — a two Michelin star restaurant — so he knows the cuisine well. “To take something I’ve had such good experiences with and elaborate on it is really what brought me here and got me excited to cook
at Fisk & Co.,” he says.

Expect a variety of mussels and frites with dipping sauces like black garlic ketchup and peppercorn or chorizo aioli. The menu will also feature what Fausett dubs “seaboards” — his take on charcuterie — with bites like octopus carpaccio, shrimp and pistachio bologna, monkfish liver mousse and smoked whitefish dip. “It’ll be similar in creativity and style to charcuterie, but light, flavorful and based on the sea,” he says.

Funkenhausen | 1709 W. Chicago; Funkenhausen.com

Opening: Late spring 2018

Mark Steuer (Carriage House) may be best known for his Southern fare, but he harkens back to his German roots for this latest venture. Don’t expect your typical loud German beer hall, though: With original Terrazzo floors and traditional wooden beams, the new space is more beer hall-meets-cozy French brasserie.

An elevated menu will feature dishes inspired by Deutschland and its neighboring countries — plus a bit of Southern flavor. Think cabbage rolls (Steuer’s childhood favorite) with beef tartare, pickled mustard seed and shaved smoked gouda.

On the drink list, expect a lot of German beer, but also a focus on wines that go beyond riesling. “We’re going to showcase all of the fun French varietals being grown in Germany,” Steuer says. 


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