Let’s qualify this by saying, in terms of the level of sophistication of the food it serves, as can be gleaned by the menu offerings. And the answer is still maybe. La Petite Folie is number one, obviously. What is in contention for the number two slot?
Well, Calypso Cafe has Tilapia Prepared Four Delicious Ways (blackened, deep fried, jerked, crusted), and Dixie Kitchen has its Crawfish Etouffe, and you can get all the raw octopus you can handle at Kikuya.
But what about Szechwan Braised Short Ribs with spicy sesame mango dipping sauce; Lobster Rangoon with lobster meat, scallions, jicama, cream cheese and Thai basil with ginger chardonnay dipping sauce; or Shiitake-Tofu Lumpia in crunchy mini vegan rolls, served with homemade plum sauce? Did you know you can get all of those things, in Hyde Park, each for $6 or less?
In fact, yes! Yesterday, we read in the Chicagoist that Noodles Etc closed its 53rd street branch and opened Chant in its stead. Moments later, under circumstances mysterious to this day, Chant’s menu appeard in our inbox, and boy were we impressed by the appetizers (of which all the aforementioned are)! The Szechwan short ribs are certainly the only short ribs on a menu in Hyde Park, and later on in the menu, Asian Pear And Watercress Salad with toasted almonds, apple, and star anise dressing - oooh, fancy (especially for $5).
The new entrees they’ve added are not as exciting as the appetizers: Beef Massaman Curry with hormone-free grain-fed steak fillet, topped with Thai massaman curry and potatoes and served with basmati rice for $14 had better be pretty good, you know? BUT DON’T WORRY! They still have pad se-eu and pancit, for you everything-was-better-the-old-way types.
Other important information: they have a liquor license (per Chicagoist), they’re starting delivery in two weeks, and they’re not open on Sundays just yet. Okay, now go and judge it and complain.
[Photo: Chant’s logo, futilely advising you to relax]
Updated: we forgot to mention the most exciting part maybe, which is that it’s open until midnight during the week and 2am on weekends. Wowee!