Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This Weeks S. Michigan Surprise? New Chef at City Tavern

Image from City Tavern's Facebook Page
So we've spent a lot of time gushing over the recent restaurant/bar additions to South Michigan.  All in all we've been pleasantly surprised across the board.  But apparently some people haven't.  Turmoil and drama continue to fester on one of Chicago's most prominent streets.

Last week it was Alain's (1355 S. Michigan) reportedly being evicted and then potentially reopening this week (which as far as we could tell was not open yesterday).  We also heard conflicting stories about Karamella Cafe (1250 S. Michigan) owners leaving completely...and then of them opening on Friday, 9/28 (FYI - that didn't happen).

This weeks surprise?  Kendall Duque is apparently no longer with Mainstay Hospitality (owners of the Chicago Firehouse and City Tavern) according to Eater Chicago.  Chef Duque has been with the company for awhile and as far as we could tell had a solid run.  Given City Tavern's recent opening and solid reviews, you would think everyone would be happy.  Maybe they were?  Maybe it was time for a change?

Image from Eater Chicago
Regardless, Jackie Shen (previously of Red Light, Chicago Cut) has taken over responsibilities at City Tavern (1416 S. Michigan).  From the sounds of it Jackie has been bouncing around the Chicago dining scene quite a bit recently.

She has the credentials and clearly the experience to carry on and (dare we say) improve on the original concept.  We've had a couple meals at City Tavern thus far and were encouraged.  Some were mediocre (walleye pike with pea tendrils, artichokes, wild mushrooms and cashew vinaigrette) and some were simply amazing (wild salmon with asparagus, lump crab and blood orange bearnaise).  Should be interesting to see what stays and what goes.

And if that's not enough, Eater Chicago is also providing some additional juicy info about Mainstay Hospitality:
Also joining the team as chef/partner is John Caputo (Bin 36) where he will oversee operations at Chicago Firehouse until an executive chef is found. He's been brought in to cover until he takes his official post at a yet unnamed concept for Mainstay. Stayed tuned for more on the Shen shuffle.
Unnamed concept?  Let the rumors begin.  Last we heard was that the once rumored Mainstay Hospitality Italian restaurant is back on the table and coming to the empty building just South of City Tavern.  We heard that it could open sometime in the summer of 2013.  Or maybe this concept is for something in Motor Row, where according to the Chicago Tribune, Mathew O'Malley (owner of Mainstay Hospitality) has been sniffing around for other opportunities.    

So stay tuned and don't blink.  Just like the weather things can change in a second around here.

(Hat tip: MCT!)


Anonymous said...

So happy to hear about the chef change at Chicago Fire House. After many great meals over the years, we haven't had a decent meal there since 2008. Have kept giving it another try every few months but always awful. On our most recent trip, I sent the lobster bisque back to the kitchen as it tasted like it had spoiled. I suggested that the chef try it and he came back and said he thought it tasted "great". Yuck.

MarkChicago said...

@Anon, couldn't disagree more.

The filet medallions and lobster bisque are incredible, the service is also first class. Additionally, City Tavern's burger has received rave reviews and I highly recommend it! Hopefully, the new chef can keep the momentum, but Duque's loss is unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

I had high hopes for city tavern. I absolutely love what they did with the bar area and the decor. However, the O'Mally brothers strike again with their inconsistent ordering of beer. I will say the service though has been incredible.
I was really excited that this place was going to specialize in harder to find craft beer. Unfortunately, they are out of many of them just like they were in their Grace O'Mally's days. To me that is just plain lazy. I also think the food has the ability to be great but it has been pretty inconsistent. I know I am going to sound like an overindulgent dumb American but would love the portions to just be a little bigger. Get your beer right and throw some more foody type sandwiches. P.S- It is still way better than Villians. No love loss there

Vee said...

I'm really excited about Jackie Shen at City Tavern!

Anonymous said...

Anyone shocked that this place is already in turmoil?

Anonymous said...

Jackie Shen is out. Don't know who has replaced her.