Those complaining about Chicago’s mild winter finally get their way as temperatures have dipped down enough to satisfy every polar bear at Lincoln Park Zoo. But while some may relish in the chill, the rest of us just want to hunker down in warm surroundings with chow that hits the spot.
At West Loop, French-focused fave Maude’s Liquor Bar (840 W. Randolph St., 312.243.9712), the vibe is ideal for a cozy night out. Down-tempo French grooves set the mood and the generous serving of duck cassoulet is enough to feed a few. We’re also excited about one of the newest items on the winter menu, caramelized Brussels sprouts that complement boneless rib eye steak or roast farm chicken. Chef Dustin Tripp shares the recipe:
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp shallots, minced
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 fl oz. chicken jus
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp chives, chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
Directions: Blanch sprouts in boiling, salted water for one minute; drain and place on a towel cut side down to pull out excess water. In a cast-iron pan, heat canola oil and two tablespoons of butter. When butter starts to brown, add sprouts cut side down, and caramelize for two minutes, checking every 30 seconds. Once the sprouts are browned, add shallots, lemon juice, chicken jus, half of the parmesan, chives and parsley. Return to heat and add remaining tablespoon of butter. Cook for about 30 seconds or until sauce has thickened. Pour into serving dish and top with remaining cheese, chives and parsley. Serves two.
If you’re hungry for more delightful dishes during the deep freeze, here’s where to go around town:
Bistronomic, 840 N. Wabash Ave., 312.944.8400. More French flavor can be found at this Gold Coast eatery serving house-made country pate, chicken liver mousse and white bean and bacon cassoulet. But it’s the signature fish soup—which comes with warm, crusty bread—that’s incredibly filling with mussels in a rich tarragon and saffron broth.
GT Fish & Oyster, 531 N. Wells St., 312.929.3501. Brunch is new at the seafood-heavy spot in River North, and it makes sense that much of the menu is dedicated to it. Hot highlights include a smoked haddock quiche in a buttery, house-made crust and biscuits accompanied by thick lobster gravy. There’s also the piping-hot monkey bread, which is best experienced when drizzled with Burton’s maple syrup.
Inovasi, 28 E. Center Ave., 847.295.1000. It’s all about deep flavors and slow cooking at the trendy Lake Bluff restaurant. The lamb shank is braised for 24 hours and served with sake, lamb-coconut broth and macadamia nuts.
Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773.772.4322. Throughout January, you can settle in with wild game chili in the lodge-like setting of Frontier. It’s filled with ground kangaroo, marrow beans, ancho peppers, cumin, crème fraiche and three-year sharp cheddar.
Rodan, 1530 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773.276.7036. Make plans to head to this Wicker Park on the weekends because that’s the only time you’ll be able to order the ahiru soup, a.k.a. duck soup. The hearty broth is filled with tender slices of duck meat and sweet potato glass noodles that’s topped with a poached egg.Sushisamba rio, 504 N. Wells St., 312.595.2300. There’s more exotic soup to sip if you visit the colorful Brazilian restaurant in River North. Moqueca mista dates back to more 300 years ago and is comprised of shrimp, squid, sea bass and crayfish simmering in coconut milk, roasted cashews and spicy dende oil.