TOC Reviews, Part 1: Shouse And Tamarkin Can See The Future!

Well okay, maybe they can see just about as far into the future as anyone else with access to the internet, a telephone, and a list of Chicago restaurant publicists. But it’s by their fine pens that we get the Restaurants & Bars section of TOC’s Fall Preview issue. So much to talk about! So much to look forward to!

• Everyone we know — including us! — is so excited about The Publican that it is all we can do to keep our shoes on the right feet and our pants on right-side-out. David Tamarkin feeds the flames (and stokes the hunger) with a profile of the trials and tribulations of the beer-and-pork emporium that runs to four internet-pages (lord knows how many in the print edition). The article paints a portrait that reads almost like a movie script. Call it a culinary Ocean’s Eleven: The trials and tribulations are seemingly infinite, and everyone involved in the scrappy-yet-slick crew — from be-everywhere-do-everything restaurateur Donnie Madia, to sous chef/sausage perfectionist Erling Wu-Bauer — is pouring in blood and sweat and time. Of course the story has a happy ending in sight: the restaurant looks on course for a mid-September opening, and every single one of the joint’s 150 seats will probably be wildly in demand for, oh, the next century or so. [TOC]

Once The Publican actually does open, will we have anything to live for? Oh yes! There’s so much else! The TOC team highlights four second acts from previously successful Chicago restaurant-makers.

Pilsen Lula, from the team behind Lula Cafe, but located in — did you see this coming? — Pilsen. Actually it’s not really called “Pilsen Lula,” but there’s no real name yet, and this is as good a stand-in as any. A “completely open” kitchen, a steel-framed garden swathed in climbing plants. Oh, and the hyper-local food sounds good too. [Shouse, TOC]

• Randy Zweiban basically is Nacional 27, but apparently he’s been having an existential crisis. Enter Province, his upcoming completely-green restaurant in the West Loop, which will be Spanish- and Latin-tinged classic American food. Opening October. [Tamarkin, TOC]

• Do you ever get the feeling that there aren’t enough restaurants in River North? Yeah, us too. But maybe an exception can be made for Jackson Park, from Jason Paskewitz, which has been in the works for years, and is finally scheduled to open this fall. Expect big plates (“I’m a big fan of not doing little plates of food,” Paskewitz says. “I hate the small-plate thing, man.”) of manly American fare like steaks. [Tamarkin, TOC]

• Up there with The Publican in terms of pre-launch buzz is Bucktown’s The Bristol, from Chris Pandel. The menu is intentionally “amorphous,” expect lots of charcuterie and an intense selection of libations — biodynamic wines, obscure brews, the usual. [Shouse, TOC]

• And of course, some more places that get a paragraph: Cafe Con Leche, OLO, The Whistler (all September); Tiny Lounge (October); Town & Country (November); An unnamed project from the folks behind Terragusto (God Knows When). [TOC]

[We’re reusing this illustration from Achewood because we are so obsessed with this comic. You should really read it from the beginning.]

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TOC Reviews, Part 1: Shouse And Tamarkin Can See The Future!