City Tavern (1416 S. Michigan) has its roots in one of owner Matthew O’Malley’s visits to an 18th century New England tavern, which got him thinking about the kind of feeling that such places had at a time when the tavern was civic meeting place, restaurant and, well, tavern all in one. That doesn’t mean that this new South Loop spot is going to go all Colonial Williamsburg on us, but it will be subtly suggestive of the Federal era with a fireplace and a blue, dark wood and gold design theme… and most of all, perhaps in the food, accessible and recognizably American, of chef Kendal Duque. Duque opened Sepia (and was a James Beard Great Lakes chef semifinalist) but he’s been a bit off the radar cranking out business lunch steaks and chops at the same owner’s Chicago Firehouse; City Tavern will raise the American food bar for him a notch or two, especially on its ever-changing, market-driven specials menu. We’ll have an interview with Duque later in the week, but for now, here’s a preview of the food he’ll be serving when City Tavern opens on June 17.
Kendal Duque of City Tavern.